The Fungus Among Us
See more of the Virtual Museum of Canada  
It's a Fungusful World!
Fungus in Our Lives
Fungal Science
Finding Fungi
Funky Fungi Facts
Fungal Folklore
Mushroom Models
Fungal Fun
Meet the Mushrooms: Fungi A-Z
  Fungus in Our Lives
Penicillium roquefortii

Imagine how dull culinary life would be if there were no breads, wines, beers, or blue cheeses. Imagine pizza dough that won't rise or even no mushrooms on your pizza. These pleasures simply would not exist if there were no fungi.

Fungi play a role in the natural world that is far more profound than simply providing us with culinary delights. Life as we know it would not exist without fungi. They are the critical link in the biological cycle of life and death.

Fungi are the great recyclers. They play a major part, with prokaryotes such as bacteria, in breaking down organic matter. Without them we would soon be up to our ears in dead plant matter and animal carcasses. Worse still, we would be surrounded by mountains of dung that would not rot.

Plants would soon run out of fresh nutrients. Animals in turn would go hungry.

There would be no forests. Few people realize that trees rely on networks of fungi working in partnership with their roots. Without fungi to make nutrients available, trees would be unable to survive. Consider the many roles trees play in supporting life on earth and you'll realize the importance of this union.

Fungi have their dark side too. They have caused famine, and disease in plants, animals, and humans. They have destroyed buildings, bridges, even railroads. But for every species of fungus that causes harm there are hundreds—if not thousands—that bring benefits to humankind.

Let's take a closer look at some of the impacts fungi have on our lives.
Fungal Friends
Fungal Foes
Fungi of the Future

© Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History 2003. All Rights Reserved.