There is currently an urgent need to increase global food security, reverse the trends of increasing cancer rates, protect environmental health, and mitigate climate change. Toward these ends, it is imperative to improve soil health and crop productivity, reduce food spoilage, reduce pesticide usage by increasing the use of biological control, optimize bioremediation of polluted sites, and generate energy from sustainable sources such as biofuels. This review focuses on fungi that can help provide solutions to such problems. We discuss key aspects of fungal stress biology in the context of the papers published in this Special Issue of Current Genetics. This area of biology has relevance to pure and applied research on fungal (and indeed other) systems, including biological control of insect pests, roles of saprotrophic fungi in agriculture and forestry, mycotoxin contamination of the food-supply chain, optimization of microbial fermentations including those used for bioethanol production, plant pathology, the limits of life on Earth, and astrobiology.