Living with Us… Fungi (Wanatowag)

Living with Us… Fungi (Wanatowag)

Fungi are everywhere, but they are easy to miss!  They are a vital part of the living environment, eating rock, making soil, digesting pollutants, forming relationships with plants and animals.  Most fungi form vast networks of many cells know as hyphae (pronounced HY fee), which are fine tubular structures that branch and fuse together to form mycelium (often seen as a network of threads in soil, rotting logs and within plant roots).  Hyphae can also make fruiting bodies such as mushrooms.  Like fruit on a tree, the mushroom you see is part of a much larger structure. While not all fungi create mushrooms, all produce spores, and fungi use spores like plants use seeds – to spread to new environments.

Did you know…

There are ten times more fungi in the world than there are plants!  The diversity of fungi is reflected in our relationship with them; we create medicines from them (e.g. penicillin, chaga), eat them (e.g. yeast in bread, citric acid in candy and pop) and need them to keep our environment clean (nature’s recyclers).  We also suffer diseases from them (e.g. athlete’s foot), food losses (e.g. potato blight, mouldy bread) and plant losses (e.g. Dutch elm disease).

Four Rivers has been assisting in an environmental investigation in Constance Lake First Nation, trying to determine the habitat of the fungi causing blastomycosis in multiple community members.  If you would like to learn more about the fungi found throughout the Matawa homelands, please contact Four Rivers at

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