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Fungi and Nutrition

Discuss in detail how fungi get their nutrition. Relate this mode of nutrition to how a bed of fungal hyphae can so rapidly breakdown organic materials such as fallen leaves that are in contact with the soil.
Include references.

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Fungi are heterotrophs, which means that fungi rely on organic carbon already fixed by other organisms (eg. cannot gain nutrition via photosynthesis). Most commonly, fungi digest dead organic matter and are the most important decomposers in many ecosystems. Furthermore, fungi use external digestion. Thus, fungi secrete chemicals into their environment that breaks down the organic matter. These chemicals have been proven repeatedly to be incredibly effective in breaking down organic matter, which is why fungus is seen in the stomachs of many ruminants (eg. sheep, cows), to aid in digestion. Once the ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains the nutrition of fungi and their role as decomposers in the environment. References are provided to aid in the understanding of the question.