Skip to Main Content

Infectious Diseases

Infectious Disease information and resources for the MSK community, including clinicians, patients, and the general public.

What are Fungi?

Fungus (plural: fungi or funguses) are a Kingdom of eukaryotic organisms such as yeasts, molds, and mushrooms. While they resemble plants as they often are found in similar environments with similar growth patterns, they are not actually plants. The key feature that differentiates fungi from plants, animals, and bacteria is that their cell walls are made of a Chitin-glucan complex.

Throughout history humans have used fungi for food, food preservation, as well as therapeutics (both traditional folk medicines and modern antibiotics), chemical production, and even certain textile manufacturing.

However, many fungi are parasitic to plants or animals (including humans), or poisonous. Some fungi can even cause serious diseases in humans, several of which may be fatal if untreated, and fungal spores are also a common cause of allergies.