5. How are fungi helpful and harmful to humans?


Fungi are another type of micro-organism. Fungi are not a plant nor an animal.

Most are decomposers that break down things in their surroundings and then may develop a stalks or mushrooms when they are ready to reproduce.

Some fungi are helpful and are used to make foods.

Yeast is a type of fungi that is used to make bread. By doing respiration, yeast break down the sugars added to bread and that are in flour and turn them into carbon dioxide and alcohol.

The carbon dioxide gets trapped in the sticky and stretchy bread dough which makes the bread light and fluffy. The alcohol evaporates when the bread is cooked so there is no alcohol left. The equation for yeast respiration is:

sugar → alcohol + carbon dioxide + energy.

Ginger beer is also made using yeast. The yeast take the sugar added to the drink and turns it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. In homemade ginger beer there is a little alcohol but shop bought ginger beer has had the alcohol removed. The carbon dioxide gets trapped in the bottle the ginger beer is brewed in and it makes the drink fizzy.

Another type of fungi are the moulds. Moulds are often seen growing in wet and warm places like in the bathroom or on old fruit in a fruit bowl. The bathroom ceiling can grow mould and it is seen as a black or green powdery substance.

To prevent moulds growing you can keep the area dry. By opening the bathroom window the water in the air and on surfaces evaporates and the mould has difficulty growing.

Some fungi grow on animals bodies.

Athletes Foot is a fungus that grows between the warm and moist toes of humans. It feeds on dead skin.

To prevent getting Athletes Foot it is important to wash and dry between your toes as the fungus cannot grow in dry conditions.


Fungi: A type of microorganism. yeast and moulds are examples of fungi.

Yeast: A type of fungi. Used ot make bread and ginger beer.

Carbon dioxide: A colourless gas made by yeast and used in food production to make bread light and fluffy and ginger beer busy.

Mould: A type of fungi. Grows in warm, wet places like bathrooms and on food.