What is a fungus?
A fungus is a living being, which does not contain chlorophyll, and is not green. We share a love hate relationship with fungus. The yeast we use to make pizza dough and bread is a also a fungus; so it is our hero then. Other fungi grow to huge size, right before our eyes, like mushrooms. But most mushrooms are poisonous, so now we hate fungus.
How does fungi grow?
Does your mother throw away old, stale bread? Fungi get their nourishment by feeding off decaying life matter. Have you seen your stale and forgotten bread become icky and greenish white? The fungus (mold) produces furry, thread-like, spore producing hyphae, which feed on food. They are the size of 10 micrometer and you would need a microscope to see them.
Mushrooms and toadstools are those types of fungi; which like the seeds of an apple, will generate more fungi. Fungus have been in existence since 450 million years (oldest fossil called Prototaxite and 30 feet tall).
Have you wondered what the green slimy stuff in your fish tank is?
What is algae?
Algae is the green moss that grows in your fish tank when you neglect it and don’t clean it. It’s a general term used to describe a group of simple organisms that range from being unicellular to multicellular and are photosynthetic in nature. They thrive in either water or damp environment.
Water and carbon dioxide are used by the algae to photosynthesize and produce sugar which acts as food for them and the oxygen is used by the fishes to breathe.
Types of algae
Chlamydomonas – A chlamydomonas is a single celled algae that looks like a worm, with its two flagella (legs) protruding out.
Volvox – Volvox is a multi-cellular algae that looks that a circular galaxy system filled with algal cells instead of stars.
Spirogyra – The Spirogyra, is a rectangular algae.
Macrocystis – Macrocystis algae is the largest algae, that grows to 60 meters in length; and provides a dense shelter to fishes from prey. And whales and shrimps love to feast on algae as it is loaded with protein.
Algae produces 87% of the Earth’s oxygen, as a photosynthetic biproduct.
6 Interesting fun facts about algae and fungus
- The red tide which is a seasonal algal bloom is kms wide and travels to coasts. Some varieties may end up choking marine life through depletion of oxygen, production of toxins which can damage nervous systems of larger marine mammals and bird life.
- Red squirrels hang mushrooms to dry to eat during winter.
- Truffles are the most expensive fungi and considered a delicacy.
- Fungus is used to decompose industrial wastes.
- The first antibiotic penicillin is extracted from fungus.
- Wine and cheese are fermented using fungus.