December 13
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(plural fungi) Any member of the large group of organisms, once regarded as plants but now considered members of a separate kingdom, that cannot photosynthesize and therefore need living or dead plant or animal matter on which to feed. Fungi may be single-celled (e.g. yeasts) but more often consist of fine filaments (hyphae) that spread through the soil or the materials they feed upon, and may from time to time concentrate and rise above the surface in the form of ?fruiting bodies? that release millions of minute spores. Toadstools, mushrooms, puffballs etc. are such fruiting bodies. Fungi are the main agents of decay in wood, plant litter and compost heaps, releasing nutrients back into the soil; there are also many parasitic fungi, some of them significant causes of plant disease or fruit rot.

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