Where do fungi get nutrients?


Quick Answer

Fungi get their nutrients from living, dead or decaying organic plant or animal material. Fungi grow on organic substrates that are able to provide them with adequate nutrition.

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Full Answer

Fungi live directly on their food sources and absorb nutrients through their membranes using hyphae, which are the basis of the fungi's functions. Because they are only able to absorb basic substances that dissolve in water, such as sugar, they release digestive enzymes to break down complex organic material. Fungi extend as far across the substrate as possible in order to absorb the maximum possible amount of organic material.

Some species of fungi form parasitical or symbiotic relationships with plants and animals. Fungal growth is not always unwelcome, and for some plants it is beneficial. Certain species of fungi provide plants with important nutrients, such as phosphorous. They also help plants process inorganic materials, such as metals, phosphates and nitrates. In return, the plant provides critical nutrients and a place for the fungi to live.

There are hunter species of fungi as well. They have hyphae that grow into a circular shape that constricts passing prey. After a tiny creature, such as a nematode or protozoan, is captured, new hyphae grow through it, and the fungus absorbs its organic fluids.

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