Most fungi get energy by absorbing living or dead organic matter through their hyphal networks. Fungi are capable of absorbing nutrients from many different substrates, including ammonia, ethanol, acetate and nitrate. A few fungi species use the pigment melanin to extract energy from ionizing radiation.
Fungi grow on the food on which they subsist. This allows them to absorb plant or animal material through their membranes and hyphae. Fungi are only capable of absorbing simple nutrients that dissolve in water, such as sugar. In order to utilize complex nutrients to create energy, fungi excrete digestive enzymes, which break the complex material down, simplifying it so it can be consumed.
Fungi usually grow on moist, nutrient-rich organic material, such as dead or living plants or animals. The hyphae are the basis of fungi function and are used for many purposes, including converting nutrients into energy. Some fungi species use hyphae to snare prey, and then absorb its fluids.
Some fungi species have symbiotic relationships with plants. The fungi helps the plant to process metals and other complex materials while also providing the plant with valuable nutrients, such as phosphorous. In turn, the plant provides the fungi with the nutrients required to make energy. Other fungi species are hunters, and they use their hyphae to trap tiny creatures, such as nematodes or protozoa.