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Portal:Fungi

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Fungi

Karl Johanssvamp, Iduns kokbok.png

A fungus is any member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. The Fungi are classified as a kingdom that is separate from plants and animals. The discipline of biology devoted to the study of fungi is known as mycology, which is often regarded as a branch of botany, even though genetic studies have shown that fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants. Fungi reproduce via spores, which are often produced on specialized structures or in fruiting bodies, such as the head of a mushroom. Abundant worldwide, most fungi are inconspicuous to the naked eye because of the small size of their structures, and their cryptic lifestyles in soil, on dead matter, and as symbionts of plants, animals, or other fungi. Fungi perform an essential role in the decomposition of organic matter and have fundamental roles in nutrient cycling and exchange. They have long been used as a direct source of food, such as mushrooms and truffles, as a leavening agent for bread, and in fermentation of various food products, such as wine, beer, and soy sauce. Since the 1940s, fungi have been used for the production of antibiotics, and, more recently, various enzymes produced by fungi are used industrially and in detergents. Fungi are also used as biological agents to control weeds and pests. Many species produce bioactive compounds called mycotoxins, such as alkaloids and polyketides, that are toxic to animals including humans. The fruiting structures of a few species are consumed recreationally or in traditional ceremonies as a source of psychotropic compounds. Fungi can break down manufactured materials and buildings, and become significant pathogens of humans and other animals. Losses of crops due to fungal diseases or food spoilage can have a large impact on human food supplies and local economies. Despite their importance on human affairs, little is known of the true biodiversity of Kingdom Fungi, which has been estimated at around 1.5 million species, with about 5% of these having been formally classified.

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Several specimens of Amanita ocreata
Amanita ocreata, commonly known as the death angel, destroying angel or more precisely Western North American destroying angel, is a deadly poisonous basidiomycete fungus, one of many in the genus Amanita. Occurring in the Pacific Northwest and California floristic provinces of North America, A. ocreata associates with oak trees. The large fruiting bodies (the mushrooms) generally appear in spring; the cap may be white or ochre and often develops a brownish centre, while the stipe, ring, gill and volva are all white.

Amanita ocreata resemble several edible species commonly consumed by humans, increasing the risk of accidental poisoning. Mature fruiting bodies can be confused with the edible A. velosa, A. lanei or Volvariella speciosa, while immature specimens may be difficult to distinguish from edible Agaricus mushrooms or puffballs. Similar in toxicity to the death cap (A. phalloides) and destroying angels of Europe (A. virosa) and eastern North America (A. bisporigera), it is a potentially deadly fungus responsible for a number of poisonings in California. Its principal toxic constituent, α-amanitin, damages the liver and kidneys, often fatally, and has no known antidote. The initial symptoms are gastrointestinal and include colicky abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. These subside temporarily after 2–3 days, though ongoing damage to internal organs during this time is common; symptoms of jaundice, diarrhea, delirium, seizures, and coma may follow with death from liver failure 6–16 days post ingestion.

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Mycena adonis 46237.jpg
Mycena adonis, commonly known as the scarlet bonnet, is a species of fungus in the Mycenaceae family. Found in Asia, Europe, and North America, it produces small orangish to reddish inedible mushrooms with caps up to 1.2 cm (0.5 in) in diameter, held by thin pinkish-white stems reaching 4 cm (1.6 in) long. The fungus prefers to grow in conifer woods and peat bogs, suggesting a preference for acidic environments. The appearance of several atypical fruitings of Mycena adonis on deciduous wood in the Netherlands in the late 1970s was attributed to increases in atmospheric pollution that raised the acidity of the wood substrate. Mushrooms resembling M. adonis include M. acicula, M. aurantiidisca, and M. rosella.

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PanellusStipticusAug12 2009.jpg
Credit: Ylem
A 517 second exposure photograph of Panellus stipticus, displaying the species's bioluminescence, sometimes referred to as foxfire.

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