Research into how fungi know what time of year it is and an investigation into whether some of New Zealand's native species arrived after Maori settlement are among projects supported by the Marsden Fund this year.
New Zealand researchers have been awarded $53.8 million this year.
The 88 successful projects were chosen from 1078 applications.
Universities were awarded 87.2% of the funding, Crown Research Institutes 10.8%, and private research bodies the balance.
A study on fungi, being given $345,000, will be carried out by Jo Steyaert from Lincoln University.
Dr Steyaert says many types of fungi seem to know what season it is, and reproduce accordingly, even when their environment is manipulated in a laboratory.
The project will investigate whether fungi get their information about the seasons from geomagnetic fields, which will be adjusted to see whether the trichoderma fungus changes its growth cycle in response.
The Marsden Fund supports inventive research driven by novel thinking. It is funded by the Government but administered independently by the Royal Society.