Fungi, Biology tutorial


Plants which belong to kingdom fungi belong to 3 phyla: Zygomycota, Asconycota (RegPenicillium) and Basidomycota (mushroom). Fungi are plants which don't contain chlorophyll and don't perform procedure of photosynthesis. They thus exist either as parasites or saprophytes. Few begin life as parasites and afterward turn out to be saprophytes as it is case with pythium that causes damping off in plants saplings. The body of fungi is composed of the mass filamentrous hyphae known as mycelium. The hyphae are both straight and branched fluffy threads sent into substrate and carrying spores in air. They reproduce asexually by spores which are simply air borne and develop in damp places. They belong to group known as thallophyta, which is group of plants that are not distinguished in leaves, stems and root. Others in this group comprise bacteria, lichens and algae. Though while fungi are either saprophytes or parasites, lichens are thallophytes composed of both fungus and algae - living together in the common advantage.

Fungi are aerobic organisms, meaning they need free oxygen to live. Fermentations, though, take place under anaerobic conditions. Knowledge of physiology of saprobic fungi has allowed industry to use many species for fermentation use. One of the most significant groups of severely anaerobic fungi are members of genera Neocallimastix (phylum Neocallimastigomycota), that form the vital constituent of microbial population of rumen of herbivorous mammals. These fungi are able to humiliate plant cell wall components, like cellulose and xylans, that animals can't otherwise digest.

Structure of Fungi:

Fungi could be composed of 1 cell (like yeast) or many cells (like mushroom). Few are motile moulds, where as others aren't motile. They can be cellular or acellular. At times it is difficult to explain the fungus as composed of cells or 1 single cell. This is the situation with slime mould that has the big slimy sheet of protoplasm, not separated in cell but has many nuclei. This fungus move like amoeba but move speedily. It could be colorless, yellow, violet or red with the finely divided net-like formation.

Few true fungi, such as mushroom and toadstools comprise their distinctive umbrella shape on the thick stalk. Their vegetative body is composed of straight and branched hyphae. In some fungi, these threads are divided by cross walls into cells while in others they are not. In a few fungi hyphae form loose fluffy mass or get strongly woven together to shape structures like that of mushroom.

Penicillum is one of common saprophytic moulds that can be discovered on rotten fruits, foods, damp brad and other type of organic matter on piece of bread for instance. Penicillum will come into view later than mucor and will provide bread the blue green colour. Hyphae are divided in cells by cross walls and every cell so created has numerous nuclei visible only if special stems are applied.

Unicellular fungus -yeast is naturally situated in overripe fruits and solutions have sugar like palm wine. By feeding on given substrates, yeast causes fermentation. In the appropriate substrates they feed and grow by budding off extremely fast to structure chains of cells. Structurally, every yeast cell has the nucleus and nuclear vacuole have chromatier thread, where as cytoplasm has granules and glycogen.

Nutrition and Growth:

It is during invisible vegetative stages when fungal hyphae actually grow. They usually secrete the strong supply of enzymes that speedily decay the substrates from which they then deduce needs for their own development. They absorb the nourishment into hyphae. Several fungi also synthesize vitamins. Few enzymes made by fungi comprise: peptase, for converting proteins into peptones; sytase, for converting celluloseinto sugar; diastase, for converting starch into sugar; and amino acids; zymase, for converting grape sugar to alcohol and CO2 and lipase, for converting can sugar to simple sugar. They are the resource of several enzymes. Fungi and bacteria are recognized to be the source of antibiotics. Every fungus and bacteria create its own antibiotic substance that main nature should have made possible as the means of self protection for the organisms.


Usually, reproduction in fungi is of 2 kinds, sexual and asexual. Sexual engages coming together of tips of two hyphae of dissimilar mycelia (as in mucus). Though in Neurospora the mycelium can make both plus and minus sexes, but cross making with plus and minus it, hyphae of another mycelium should take place. Genetic modifications take place and spore sacks are produced. These can finally develop to form new fungi. Few species of yeast also reproduce sexually by making similar to conjugation and produce spores that develop when conditions are favorable.


Fungi require damp (moist) surroundings to produce as they take in both water and nourishment through the surfaces. As they don't utilize light to produce the food, they can live both in light and dark. However several require light to make spores. Their chemical secretions assist them not only to digest elements in the habitat for absorption but also to make the defense for themselves as other species are not likely to live in others territories. Fungi are thus different from algae that should usually live in light as they are photosynthetic by feeding habit. Bacteria and fungi are extremely similar in manner they cause disease and decomposition of organic matter. Fungi are mainly efficient in breakdown of cellulose. When this occurs, there is rapid increase in fungal materials incorporating carbonaceous and nitrogenous end products.

Fungi play unique function for ecosystem functioning. They may accept various lifestyles, for instance saprotrophs, symbionts or parasites: few species are cosmopolitan with the extensive distribution and others, due to ecological plasticity, they may acclimatize to unkind surroundings excluded to most of life forms. In stressing situations, their function is even more vital for recycling of organic matter or preferring nutrients uptake. When situations turn out to be actually severe and competition is short, fungi concentrate on extremotolerance and develop odd competences to develop natural or xenobiotic resources in particular constrains forced by environment. This paper focuses on three different cases of fungal life in the extremes: hydrocarbon-polluted sites, extremely acidic substrates, and littoral dunes, aiming to give few but significant examples of the role of these fascinating organisms in peculiar habitats and the valuable biotechnological potentialities of the abilities they have evolved in response to such constrains.

Economic significance of Fungi:

Various significance of fungi is given below:

Recycling: Together with bacteria fungi form the main function in recycling dead and decayed matter.

Food: Several mushrooms are utilized as food by humans. Mushrooms species are suitable for eating and are cultivated in several parts of world for sale.

Plant and Animal Diseases: Several fungi live on and in plants and animals causing diseases. They also co-exist harmoniously with plants and animals.

Recycling: Together with bacteria fungi form the major role in recycling dead and decayed matter.

Medicines: Penicillin antibiotic is deduced from the common fungi Penicillium. Several other fungi also make antibiotics, that are utilize to control diseases in humans and animals.

Bio-control Agents: Fungi are utilized to parasitize insects that assist control pests. Spores of fungi are sprayed on crops; this technique is cheaper and environmentally friendly.

Food spoilage: Fungi play the major function in recycling organic material. Fungal damage is liable for large losses of stored food generally when food has moisture.

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