The Hidden Kingdom of Fungi: Exploring the Microscopic World in Our Forests, Homes, and Bodies

Greystone. May 2022. 296p. ISBN 9781771646628. $27.95. SCI
In nine concise chapters, noted mycologist Seifert (Carleton Univ., Ottawa) introduces readers to the hidden world of fungi, which he calls “my friends.” Via witty and humorous writing dotted with personal anecdotes, he endeavors to reveal a world that few laypeople know, aside from supermarket mushrooms or brewer’s yeasts. He wisely starts from a very basic level, explaining that the fungal edifices that can be seen by the naked eye (like mushrooms) usually represent only the tip of the iceberg that is the vast kingdom Mycota. In fact, the large part of fungal mass lives underground as strands of hyphae, or inside other organisms, like plants and even humans. Most of Seifert’s chapters are organized around a particular environment in which fungi live: forests, croplands, foods, houses, the body. Overall, an accessible and enjoyable work that would benefit from more images, especially where Seifert describes the physiological characteristics of each new fungal protagonist.
VERDICT An excellent, intimate introduction to fungi and mycology that will appeal to general science readers and those interested in learning about our biologically interdependent world.
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