Originally published March 7 2014
Fungi - such as mushrooms, molds and yeasts - are actually more closely related to animals than to plants
by David Gutierrez, staff writer
(NaturalNews) At first glance, mushrooms, molds and other fungi appear to be a type of plant. After all, they are stationary, they grow out of a single substrate, and their tissues look roughly similar to those produced by plants. But fungi are actually an entirely separate kingdom of living beings, on the same level of classification as bacteria, plants and animals -- and genetic analysis shows that they are more closely related to animals than to plants!
Unlike plants (and like animals), fungi cannot produce energy from sunlight and need to consume organic materials from their environments to survive.
They accomplish this with vast networks of filaments known as mycelium, which penetrate and digest either living tissue (e.g., athlete's foot) or, more commonly, dead material. Thus, fungi are primarily biomass consumers rather than producers, whereas plants tend to produce more biomass than they consume.
Another major difference separating fungi from plants is that all plants have a complex root system and usually have other structures such as stems and leaves. Fungi lack all these structures.
Unlike plant cells, which are protected by a cellulose wall, fungal cells are protected by chitin, the same material that insect exoskeletons are made of.
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