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Many faces of fungi

Fungi play vitally important roles in the natural environment and in our lives. This year, our theme for UK Fungus Day is the many faces of fungi, encapsulating the myriad of ways that fungi contribute to our world.


  • Their role in natural ecosystems

  • Fungi in collaboration or conflict with plants, animals and other microorganisms

  • How fungi benefit humans and other animals as food or in medicine

  • Their role as inspiration for art, music and writing

  • Innovation in sustainable construction, clothing and packaging materials

  • Fungi as the foundations of mythology and folklore

Here are just a few of the many faces of fungi...


Lichens: a partnership between kingdoms

Lichens can be easily confused with plants, mosses, fungi, or bacteria but in fact they are none of these. Lichens are a symbiotic partnership between very distinct life forms - a fungus (and sometimes more than one!) and a green alga and / or cyanobacterium.

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Hidden fungi: illuminating fungal dark matter

Fungi are ancient organisms that have been around for a billion years. Despite comprising a diverse group of organisms with unique characteristics and ecological roles, Kingdom Fungi remains largely unexplored and hidden away.

Often overshadowed by the charismatic Plants and Animals, Fungi are estimated to number between 11.7 and 13.2 million species, of which only about 150,000, a tiny fraction, have been formally described.  The unexplored majority are known as the fungal ‘dark matter’.

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Fungi: the pollution solution?

The decomposer abilities of fungi have provided the foundation for much of life on our planet. Having had a pivotal role in the evolution of life on Earth, can fungi also aid in its preservation, particularly in the face of increasing pollution and climate change?

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