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Fungi Definition

A fungus, or fungi in the plural, is a living creature that can contain yeasts, molds, mushrooms, and other things. The tiny hyphae, thread-like cells found on fungi, absorb nutrients and keep the fungus in place. Some have a body made up of many cells, like mushrooms. Unlike plants with chlorophyll to absorb energy from sunlight, fungi do not. They are instead nourished by ingesting and absorbing the dead organic materials around them. Mycology is the study of fungi.

Fungi Definition

Fungi are a distinct kingdom of living organisms, apart from animals & plants. In contrast to bacteria, fungi contain nuclei in their cells. Hyphae sometimes have many nuclei. They have chitin-based cell walls as opposed to cellulose-based plant cell walls. The fungus is differentiated from other groups of similar creatures by these and other characteristics. The fungi are referred to as Eumycota or Eumycetes.

Let's examine the structure, classification, and characteristics of fungi in depth.

Structure of Fungi

The following points can be used to describe the structure of fungi:

  • Except for yeast cells, almost all fungi are filamentous.
  • They can be multicellular or single-celled creatures.
  • Long, thread-like structures called hyphae make up fungi. The structure produced by these hyphae together is known as mycelium.
  • Chitin & polysaccharides form the cell wall of mushrooms.
  • The protoplast that makes up the cell wall differentiates into other cell components such as the membrane, cytoplasm, organelles, & nuclei.
  • The chromatin filaments in the nucleus are clear and dense. A nuclear membrane encircles the nucleus.

Characteristics of Fungi

The following are important fungi characteristics:

  • Fungi are eukaryotic creatures that are non-vascular, non-motile, & heterotrophic.
  • They might be filamentous or unicellular.
  • They spread spores to reproduce.
  • Fungi show the generational alternation phenomenon.
  • Fungi cannot do photosynthesis because they lack chlorophyll.
  • Starch is the sort of food that fungi store.
  • In fungi, chitin is biosynthesized.
  • The fungus has very tiny nuclei.
  • The fungus does not go through an embryonic stage. They develop from spores.
  • Sexual or asexual reproduction is the method used.
  • Some fungi may infect the host and are parasitic.
  • Fungi create a substance called pheromone, which stimulates sexual reproduction.
  • Examples include yeast, mold, and mushrooms.

Classification of the Fungi

Kingdom of Fungi Various approaches are used to categorize fungi. The several categories of fungus are as follows:

Based on Nutritional Mode

The fungi kingdom can be divided into three divisions based on their nutritional composition.

Saprophytic- The fungus is saprophytic, which means they rely on decomposing organic matter to stay alive. Rhizopus, Penicillium, & Aspergillus are other examples.

Parasitic- Fungi that consume and receive nutrition from living things, like animals or plants, are referred to in this term. Examples include Puccinia and Taphrina.

Symbiotic- To thrive, these fungi have a mutually beneficial symbiotic connection with other species. Two examples are mycorrhiza and lichens. Lichens are a product of the symbiotic connection between algae and fungi. In this situation, both algae and fungi benefit because fungi defend algae, and algae, in turn, feed fungi with carbohydrates. Mycorrhiza is the name for the symbiotic interaction that exists between fungi and plants. While plants provide fungi with organic substances like sugar, fungi assist plants in better-absorbing nutrients.

Based on Spore Formation

Kingdom fungi are categorized into the following categories based on spore formation:

Zygomycetes- These are produced when two unique cells come together. Sporangiospores are asexual spores, whereas zygospores are sexual spores. The hyphae don't have any septa. For instance, mucor.

Ascomycetes- It is also referred to as sac fungus. They might be coprophilous, saprophytic, decomposers, parasitic, or any of these. Sexual spores include ascospores. Conidiospores aid asexual reproduction. Saccharomyces is one example.

Basidiomycetes- The most prevalent basidiomycetes are mushrooms, which mainly survive as parasites. Sexual reproduction occurs in basidiospores. Asexual reproduction can occur by conidia, budding, or fragmentation. An example is Agaricus.

Deuteromycetes- Because they don't reproduce using the same cycle as the other fungus, these fungi are sometimes referred to as imperfect fungi. They do not procreate sexually. The means of asexual reproduction are conidia. One example is trichomoniasis.

Reproduction in Fungi

Fungi Definition

Fungi can reproduce both sexually and asexually. The terms "teleomorph" & "anamorph" are used to describe the sexual and asexual modes of reproduction, respectively.

Vegetative reproduction- In fungi, vegetative reproduction occurs by budding, fission, and fragmentation.

Asexual reproduction- Asexual reproduction involves the usage of spores such as conidia, zoospores, or sporangiospores.

Sexual reproduction- Sexual reproduction occurs via oospores, ascospores, & basidiospores.

Uses of Fungi

Fungi are among the most significant groupings of living things since they are essential to the biosphere and have significant economic value due to their beneficial and harmful impacts.

The following are some significant applications for fungi:

Recycling- They significantly impact the recycling of decomposing and dead waste.

Food- The cultivated mushrooms are edible and therefore consumed by people. A certain fungus species must be introduced to certain kinds of cheese. These cheeses include Camembert and blue cheese, for instance. The cheese has a distinct flavor and texture thanks to the fungus.

Medicines- Antibiotics and treatments for ailments in both people and animals are made from a variety of fungi. Penicillium, a widespread fungus, is where the antibiotic penicillin originates.

The Conclusion

Fungi are a significant component of soil biodiversity, and this wide range of organisms can assist in addressing issues like hunger and climate change. Fungi and plants, as well as the cycle of nutrients and carbon, are closely related.

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