Fungi are all around us

Project 1, Part 1: Where are fungi?

As we’ve just learned, there are microscopic fungi all around us. One question that scientists ask is about diversity in the environment. What are the other species around us? It is estimated that there are more than 5 million different fungal species on earth, but we only know about 97,000 of them1. At the current rate, it will take 4000 years to identify all of the fungal species on earth! In this project, you will sample the environment and describe some of the fungal diversity around you.




1 nutrient agar plate divided into 5 sections

Sterile cotton swabs

Sterile toothpicks


  1. Choose something to sample. Be creative! Sample the area using the cotton swab or touch it directly to the agar.
  2. Use a toothpick to spread the spot in a 1 inch line along the rim of the plate.
  3. Use a new toothpick to draw a T from the original 1 inch line.
  4. Use another new toothpick to streak a Z along the second line.
  5. Repeat for each wedge, for a total of 5 different samples.
  6. Incubate the plates in the dark at room temperature for 48 hours to 1 week.
  7. Record your results by photographing the plate.

Record your results:

What did you sample and why?

What do you see?

How many different fungal colonies have grown up on the plate? Describe their appearance.


Citation: 1) Blackwell M. “The Fungi: 1,2,3…5.1 Million species?” American Journal of Botany 98(3): 426–438. 2011. (This paper is available online at



Comments Off on Fungi are all around us Short URL

Comments are closed.