Behaviourally, mushrooms are very different from humans and animals as they don’t move around and they don’t reproduce sexually. This is why most people would immediately see it as a vegetative organism, closely related to plants. In fact, they’re actually more closely related to humans that plants. As it turns out, animals and fungi share a common ancestor that branched away from plants and it was only later that animals and fungi separated on the genealogical tree of life, making mushrooms more closely related to humans than plants.
Before animals and fungi started becoming what we are today, there was a marked lack of chlorophyll in of both animals and fungi and both took a step away from photosynthesis. Fungal cell walls are made of chitin, which also makes up insect’s outer carapaces, that’s found nowhere in the plant world. Furthermore, it was discovered that both animals and fungi contained a component called lanosterol, while plants had nothing like it.
Fungal proteins look more like animal than plant proteins and maybe that’s why most cooked mushrooms feel like biting into meat, not eating a salad 😃 This is not very scientific, however fungi and animals are both eukaryotes, with nuclei and other complex structures inside their cell membranes. On the other hand, bacteria are much simpler as they’re composed of just genetic material and a cell wall. This is why, when we try to fight a bacterial infection, the body is able to easily differentiate and neutralize the threat but unfortunately, with fungal infections, the body sometimes thinks that the infection is…. us. This is certainly a problem for medical treatment!
Mushrooms are recognised as belonging to their own kingdom, the fungi kingdom, along side with the other four kingdoms that are called animalia, plantae, protista (algae or invertebrates) and monera (bacteria).
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