This podcast about fungi explores a life form that's all around us, yet rarely seen. Working under cover, it sends its ghostly tendrils into almost every corner of the terrestrial world. We associate it with death and decay, but life as we know it would be impossible without it. Come for a walk in the woods with Ari Daniel Shapiro and learn how this mysterious form of life, neither animal nor vegetable, shapes our world.

Strategies for Using EOL Podcasts in a Variety of Learning Environments

  • Play the first fifteen seconds of the podcast and then pause it. Invite students to try and answer the riddle before playing the rest.
  • Have students write down terms they are unfamiliar with while listening to the podcast. Then define them as a group, afterwards.
  • Have students close their eyes and visualize what is being discussed in the podcast. Then have them produce a sketch based on their interpretations.
  • Have students preview several of the podcasts found on the Encyclopedia of Life site and choose the one they find most interesting. Have students research the species or species group and present to their peers.
  • Pose an open-ended question before students listen to the podcast, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
  • Have students determine what they think the key message of this podcast is. Was the host effective in getting his or her message across?
  1. What part of a fungus is the mushroom?

    • Answer

      A mushroom is the fruit body of a fungus.

  2. What is the relationship between fungi and plants?

    • Answer

      Myccorhizal fungi attach to the roots of plants and help absorb water and nutrients and share them with the plants and in exchange, the fungi get some of the sugars stored within the plant roots. Fungi also help digest and decompose plant matter.

  3. Why might an ecologist like Lynn Body spend her time studying fungi?

    • Answer

      Ecologists or other scientists who study fungi, called mycologists, study fungi because it is important to understand the role that fungi play in forests and other ecosystems.


to decay or break down.


scientist who studies the relationships between organisms and their environments.

Plural Noun

(singular: fungus) organisms that survive by decomposing and absorbing nutrients in organic material such as soil or dead organisms.


(plural: mycelia) vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like, tubular filaments.


scientist who studies fungi.


study of fungi.


symbiotic relationship between a fungus and the roots of a vascular plant.


substance an organism needs for energy, growth, and life.


living or once-living thing.


organism that produces its own food through photosynthesis and whose cells have walls.