Fungi DefinedFungi, together with bacteria and protists, are the major decomposers of organic matter on earth. Most fungi are saprobes, that is, they digest nonliving organic matter, such as wood, leaves, and dead animals. However, some fungi are parasites that attack living things and cause disease. Fungi cause many agricultural diseases as well as several human diseases. A unique physical structure and the method by which they obtain nutrients distinguish fungi from the other four kingdoms. Fungi secrete enzymes into the environment and break down organic matter, and then absorb the small nutrient particles through their cell membranes. This process is called extracellular digestion. Fungi are considered by many biologists to be multicellular organisms, and the body of a fungus consists primarily of cells joined in filaments. Each microscopic filament of a fungus is a
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