Fungi and plants are both multicellular eukaroytic organisms, meaning that their cells have nuclei and membrane-bound organelles. These two organisms also lack mobility. The cells of plants and fungi have cell walls, which are tough but flexible structures surrounding the cell membrane that afford support and protection.
Although plants and fungi can appear superficially similar, fungi are actually more closely related to animals than plants. Fungi are not able to photosynthesize, which is one of the distinguishing characteristics of plants. Instead, fungi absorb nutrients from their environment and break them down through enzymes. Three different methods of nutrient absorption exist for fungi: saprobic, mutualistic and parasitic. Saprobes decompose dead animal and plant material, while parasitic fungi feed from living organisms. Mutualistic fungi function symbiotically and can benefit their hosts.
The reproductive methods of fungi are complex, and many fungi can reproduce in more than one method. Such methods include asexual reproduction, sexual reproduction and spore dispersal. The evolutionary record of fungi is not well understood, as fungi are fleshy and do not preserve well in fossils. The earliest organisms that display fungus-like traits are from the Proterozoic eon, approximately 1,430 million years ago. Fungi most likely colonized the land during the Cambrian period.