Haven’t you ever noticed that eating a perfectly cooked portobello mushroom feels a lot closer to eating meat than a salad? Well, that isn’t exactly a scientific explanation of the connection, but genetic studies show that there may be a common ancestor from which both animals and fungi evolved.
In 1993, researchers Baldouf and Palmer published a paper, Animals, and fungi are each other’s closest relatives: congruent evidence form multiple proteins. They compared 25 proteins and their DNA sequences between bacteria, plants, animals, and fungi. They found that animals and fungi exhibited similarities in certain proteins that plants and bacteria did not have. “This congruence among multiple lines of evidence strongly suggests, in contrast to the traditional and current classification, that animals and fungi are sister groups, while plants constitute an independent evolutionary lineage,” the researchers write in their paper.
A 2005 paper described how both animals and fungi are relatives of protists through protein analysis. Researchers are still teasing out the complex relationships between animals and fungi, but there is enough evidence to suggest that you and a mushroom have more in common than a plant has with a mushroom.