Arctic Life/Arctic Fungi
Fungi are often classified as plants, yet they have no roots, shoots, stems, or leaves and some live entirely in the dark. Fungi also lack chlorophyll, which means they cannot produce their own food as plants do. In fact, fungi are heterotrophic organisms, and create energy by releasing enzymes from their cells to break down organic matter. Fungi possess a branched, tubular body, and reproduce by means of spores. These characteristics are so distinctive that fungi have been placed in a taxonomic group by themselves, the Kingdom Fungi. Although there are two major groups of fungi, protoctistan and eumycotan, only the eumycotan or "true" fungi will be discussed here.
There is little awareness of the importance of fungi in everyday life. For instance, the toast you ate for breakfast, the blue cheese in your salad dressing at lunch, the soy sauce on your rice at dinner, and the night cap you had before bed, were all made possible by fungi. Antibiotics, such as penicillin, are also derived from fungi and some fungi contain enzymes that are used in detergents. Fungal biodiversity can be used as a bioindicator of environmental changes resulting from atmospheric and terrestrial pollution. Fungi also play a significant role in maintaining the dynamic equilibrium within fragile northern ecosystems as major decomposers, symbionts, and parasites.
Relatively few studies have been done on the fungi which inhabit the Canadian Arctic. Extensive accounts of the rusts (Uredinales) and other parasitic fungi of Arctic Canada have been published, and microfungi have been studied in a few locations, but the larger mushroom species remain poorly documented. In fact, the field of mycology remains largely unexplored and open for discovery in the Canadian High Arctic.
Although not enough work has been done to provide an accurate species count, it is known that hundreds of different fungal species occur in tundra habitats.
Please browse the fungal classes below to learn about different species of Arctic fungi!
The Biology of Fungi and Some Fun Facts
To explore intriguing biological knowledge regarding the kingdom fungi, please browse below.
- Peralta, Rosane Marina; da Silva, Bruna Polacchineda; Gomes Côrrea, Rúbia Carvalho; Kato, Camila Gabriel; Vicente Seixas, Flávio Augusto; Bracht, Adelar (2017). Enzymes from Basidiomycetes—Peculiar and Efficient Tools for Biotechnology. Maringa, Brazil: Academic Press. p. 119-149.