Organisms in the fungi kingdom include mushrooms, smuts, puffballs, morels, molds, yeasts and more. Over 70,000 species of fungi exist throughout the world; they live in temperate, subarctic and tropical climates, and reside on land as well as in water. Fungi belong to the class of eukaryotes, and come in many sizes, shapes and colors.
Fungi, as a whole, are a hardy group. They thrive in many places provided they have access to moisture, predictable temperatures and organic substrates. The optimal growth conditions for fungi vary widely among species; most fungi live in tropical environments, although other species live in cold locales and seemingly inhospitable places.
The Kingdom Fungi includes some of the most unique and poisonous organisms in the world. This family contains the basidioma, one of the largest mushrooms in the world, which resides in England. The largest members of this species may reach heights of 140 inches and weigh more than 600 pounds.
Some fungi play important roles in the fields of medicine and science; the medication penicillin, which is an antibiotic, is comprised of mushroom extracts from fungal spores, as are several other types of antibiotics.
Fungi are heterotrophic organisms, and although they look much different, share some overlapping characteristics with animals.