Behold the funky fungus! From the yeast that leavens our bread to the chanterelles that top our gourmet pizzas to the penicillin that kills our infections, fungi enrich our lives in countless ways. And University of Arkansas professor Steven L. Stephenson
is determined to make you appreciate all the talents and quirks of these unassuming species. His book, The Kingdom Fungi: the Biology of Mushrooms, Molds and Lichens
from Timber Press, explores the ecologically important role of fungi in nature.
The book's images of fungi and fungus-like organisms, many of which cannot be seen by the naked eye, may change your perception of nature's decomposers from disgusting pests to gorgeous works of natural art. The fungal rust that attacks your rose bushes, for instance, looks ugly in your garden. Yet, under a microscope, as in this image, its intricate structures are as geometrically intriguing as a Kandinsky or Miro painting. In this gallery, we present fungus species with stunning looks or freaky abilities.