An unseen world of Fungi.


The unseen world of fungi is a fascinating and often overlooked realm that plays a momentous role in various ecosystems. Fungi establish a diverse group of organisms, distinct from plants, animals, and bacteria. While some fungi are visible, such as mushrooms and molds. Most of the fungal species in our world exists in the form of microscopic organisms, including yeasts and filamentous fungi.

While this unseen world of fungi is still under discovery, the vast population of fungi is unexplored. Recent research suggest that only a small percentage of fungal species have been discovered and documented. Ongoing research related to fungal species continues to uncover new species. It deepen our understanding of their ecological roles and its potential fruits. According to recent research, only around 148,000 species of fungal species have been described by taxonomists. A 2017 estimate suggest that there may be about 2.2 to 3.8 million species present in our living world. Every year, around 1,000 to 1,500 fungal species are discovered. We can say undoubtedly that there is a lot to talk about this ” unseen world of fungi”.

History of fungi:

The awareness regarding utilization of fungi in human world and its unbiased importance in our life has a huge history. Thousands of years ago, people were unaware of fungal history but they were still getting benefits from them. Here are some key milestones regarding the history of fungal species.

Ancient China and Egypt:

⦁ Use of mushrooms:

Ancient Chinese and Egyptian civilizations recognized and utilized certain kind of mushrooms (kind of fungal specie) in their foods. They also use it in their medicines and for their culinary purposes. Chinese mention mushrooms as an important medicine in the 5th century BCE.

Ancient Rome and Greece:

Aristotle’s Observation:

The ancient philosopher of Greece “Aristotle” made observations about fungi in its book named “Historia Animalium” (History of animals). His understanding was limited at that time but he classified them as plants due to their nature of immobility. He classified fungi, lacking movement in plant category. He categorized mushrooms, molds and yeast under the general category of plants. Despite his limited understanding, Aristotle’s work laid the foundation for subsequent naturalists and philosophers.

Middle Age Observation:

⦁ Knowledge in Middle East:

It has a rice history in Middle East particularly during the Islamic golden age (8th to 14 centuries). Scholars made significant researches regarding understanding of fungi. They described fungi various types and their utilization. Ibn -al-Haytham made significant contribution regarding mushrooms. He documented the differences between poisnous and edible mushrooms. Middle eastern scholars further contributed and explored medicinal properties of various plants and fungi.

Illustration through books:

⦁ First illuminated facts book:

First illustrated book regarding fungi was published in 1516. It was named as “Herbarum Vivae Eicones” written by Italian naturalist and Physician Otto Brunfels. This illustration in the book depicted various mushrooms and their significant qualities.

17th to 20th century major discoveries:

⦁ Robert Hook:

With the new invention of microscope in 17th century, Robert Hook begin making microscopic observation relating to fungi. Hook’s “Micrographia” concluded detailed drawings of molds.

⦁ Carl Linnaeus:

He classified fungi as a seperate kingdom in 18th century during his classification of modern taxonomy.

⦁ Louis Pasteur:

He conducted groundbreaking research on yeast. He further demonstrated its role in foods and medicinal industry.

⦁ Alexander Fleming:

The discovery of Penicillin in 1928 revolutionized medicine and its research. This antibiotic derived from the fungus Penicillium.

21st century discoveries:

The latter half of the 20th century and the 21st century have seen significant advancements regarding study of fungi. Mycologists have identified numerous fungal species and elucidated their ecological roles. They explored their applications in various fields and their relationship with human world.

⦁ Culinary uses:

Mushrooms have been used as culinary delicacies in various cultures for centuries. Truffles, morels, and shiitake mushrooms are examples of prized edible fungi used nowadays. Their use in each field is exemplary.

⦁ Medicinal Applications:

Fungi have been used in traditional medicine for their medicinal properties and effective usage. Modern research continues to shock world with its exploration regarding potential therapeutic uses of fungi.

Some key facts about this unseen world of fungi:

Diverse nature:

The fungal kingdom is extremely diverse, with an estimated 2.2 to 3.8 million species of fungi. However, only a fraction of these fungi have been formally identified and described. Fungi can be found in in a variety of habitats, from soil and decaying matter to the depths of the ocean. Their diverse nature help them to survive in this modern world.

Major role in Ecosystems:

Fungi play its incredible roles in ecosystems as decomposers, breaking down organic matter and recycling nutrients. This decomposition process is equally essential for nutrient cycling and soil health. Additionally, fungi form symbiotic relationships with plants, such as mycorrhizal associations. They help plants absorb nutrients from the soil and in return exchange for carbohydrates.

Medicinal and industrial uses:

Fungi play pivotal roles in both the medicinal and industrial fields. It offers a multitude of applications that have been harnessed and continue to be explored with modern scientific advancements. In medicine, fungi have provided crucial antibiotics, with penicillin being a groundbreaking example. Beyond penicillin, numerous other fungal-derived antibiotics have been discovered. They are contributing significantly to the pharmaceutical industry’s arsenal against bacterial infections. Moreover, fungi are involved in the production of immunosuppressive drugs and anti-cancer agents. Recent research has unveiled the incredible potential of fungal compounds in combating emerging diseases and drug-resistant microbes. It showcases the ongoing relevance of fungi in medicine.

Mycorrhizal Networks:

Underground mycorrhizal networks, formed by the hyphal threads of fungi, connect plants and facilitate the exchange of nutrients. These networks are essential for the health and survival of many plant species. These relationships are equally important for fungi too and help them in their survival.

Astonishing facts about this fungal world:

Fungi are truly fascinating organisms with some major astonishing features. Here are some real and astonishing facts about fungi, including updated information.

Largest Organism:

The Armillaria ostoyae fungus, commonly known as “honey fungus,” holds the record for being one of the largest organisms on Earth. A single individual in the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon covers an area of around 2,385 acres.


Some mushrooms, such as the Mycena lux-coeli species, exhibit bioluminescence feature. These mushrooms emit a soft, greenish glow in low light conditions. It creates an enchanting and otherworldly atmosphere in the forests where they grow.

Found in Space:

In 2019, mycologists sent samples of the fungus Aspergillus nidulans to the International Space Station. The research aimed to study how microgravity and radiation in space might affect fungal growth and stress responses. It provides further insights into the adaptability of fungi beyond Earth.

Zombie Ant Fungus:

The Ophiocordyceps unilateralis fungus is commonly known as the “zombie ant fungus.” It infects ants, takes over their nervous systems. It compels them to leave their colonies and climb vegetation. The fungus then sprouts from the ant’s head, releasing spores to infect more ants below. In this way, this fungus reproduces and survives.

Beer Production:

The brewing industry depends on specific yeast strains, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, for the fermentation process in beer production. These yeasts convert sugars into alcohol and carbondioxide. It further contributes to the flavor and alcohol content of the final beverage.

Antibiotic producing Fungi:

The fungus Penicillium notatum, which produces penicillin, transformed medicine by introducing the first widely used antibiotic. Today, researchers continue to explore other fungi for more useful antibiotic compounds. This research is important because of the increasing antibiotics resistance against diseases.


Fungi are major components of biodiversity, with estimates of fungal species ranging from 2.2 to 3.8 million. However, only a small percentage of these fungal species have been formally described and studied. Mainly, it highlights the vast potential for new discoveries in the fungal kingdom.

Found in Soil:

Fungi have the capability of forming intricate networks of mycorrhizae in the soil. These networks are connected with plant roots. It enhance nutrient absorption by plants and contribute to the overall health of ecosystems. Some researchers refer to these networks as the “Wood Wide Web.”

Fungal inoculents used for Agriculture:

Certain fungi, such as mycorrhizal fungi, are used as inoculants in agriculture. It improves plant growth and provide nourishment. These fungi form symbiotic relationships with plants. It helps them to access nutrients, particularly phosphorus, from the soil

Psychedelic Fungi:

Psilocybin-containing mushrooms, often referred to as magic mushrooms, have been used worldwide in various cultures for their hallucinogenic properties. Ongoing studies are exploring the potential therapeutic effects of psilocybin in the treatment of mental health disorders. It leads to a resurgence of interest in psychedelic fungi

This unseen world of Fungi still holds much more mysteries:

The unseen world of fungi still retains many mysteries and undiscovered facts that intrigue scientists and researchers. Here are some aspects yet to be fully uncovered about the fungal kingdom, along with some surprising facts:

Undiscovered Species:

It is believed that the majority of fungal species on Earth are yet to be discovered. The actual number of fungal species may far exceed current estimates. This ongoing research in undiscovered habitats, particularly in rainforests and deep-sea environments, may reveal numerous new species.

Discovery of Antibiotics:

Fungi have been prolific sources of antibiotics, but there is much more to discover. Exploration of fungal species and their potential to generate antimicrobial compounds is equally important. It offers valuable alternatives to tackle with the ongoing challenge of antibiotic resistance.

Biotechnological Applications:

The biotechnological potential of fungi is vast and incredible. Future discoveries may lead to the development of new enzymes and sustainable materials derived from fungi. Fungal biotechnology could revolutionize industries, contributing to a more healthy and eco-friendly future.

Role in Extreme Environments:

Fungi can grow in a variety of extreme environments, from deep-sea hydrothermal vents to polar regions. Understanding how fungi adapt and contribute to ecosystem in these extreme habitats is a frontier of exploration. It offers insights into life’s resilience.

Fungi in Genetics:

Advances in genomic technologies are opening new doors to explore the genetics and evolution of fungi. The study of fungal genomes can provide insights into their adaptation to different environments and evolutionary relationships. It has a great potential for genetic manipulation for beneficial applications.


The impact of mycotoxins (toxic compounds produced by some fungi) on human health is an ongoing area of research. Discovering the mechanisms of mycotoxin production and their effects on human and animal health is crucial for public health.

Fungi in Space Exploration:

As humanity ventures further into space, awareness of the adaptability of fungi to microgravity and space environments is gaining importance. Future space missions may involve experiments that can contribute to life support systems and resource utilization in space.

Wait! Do consider the significant role of fungi in food processing. What Is The Role Of Fungi In Food Processing


This unseen world of fungi holds tremendous potential for scientific discovery and innovation. Continued exploration, technological advancements, and ongoing research are essential to unravel the mysteries of fungi. It unlocks their full range of ecological, medical, and industrial contributions.

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