Mushrooms are fungi, which are actually genetically closer to animals than they are to plants. Scientists use a genealogical path known as the Tree of Life to trace the evolution of living organisms, and they have determined that fungi share a common ancestor with animals and are completely branched off from plants. Fungi and animals have to turn to external sources for their food sources, but plants can produce their own nutrients. Chitin, a complex carbohydrate responsible for cell wall structure, is a molecule that is shared by fungi and animals but is not found in plants.
More about fungi:
- Fungal infections are difficult to treat in humans and animals because the ingredients that affect fungus can also negatively affect the host of the infection because of their shared genetic relationship.
- One of the largest fossils ever discovered was a fungus called Prototaxites. It was more than 30 feet (9.14 m) tall.
- Fungi can be used for bioremediation, which means that they can absorb dangerous substances in soil, such as industrial waste or pesticides, to make the soil safe to use.