Difference Between Algae and Fungi

Algae and Fungi are both living organisms but belong to different kingdoms of classification. Both of them are simple creatures and form the basis of their kingdom. Algae form the basis of the Kingdom Protista, and fungi form the basis for kingdom Mycota. Algae and Fungi differ from each other as Algae always needs to be in water or a water source nearby along with sunlight and chlorophyll to survive. But this does not apply to Fungi. Fungi feed on the dead and decayed matter and do not require sunlight and chlorophyll. Mushrooms can also be a variety of parasites, which are organisms that depend on the host for its survival.

An interesting fact about algae and fungi is that although there are significant differences between both algae and mildew, there are organisms that form a symbiotic relationship with algae and fungi. These are the hybrid versions of both these organisms called Lichens, that can produce their own by the process of photosynthesis. Also, they have the properties of fungi like shielding the plant from the sun's UV rays that help them to survive from the external environment. 


Algae are a type of aquatic organisms which can conduct photosynthesis. Examples of algae are the phytoplanktons, kelps, and the alga bloom that are seen in lakes. Phytoplanktons are the first organisms that produce almost 70% of the oxygen on earth. Hence, it is one of the leading microorganisms to continue the oxygen cycle. Also, eukaryotic algae reproduce by the help of sexual reproduction. They are dimorphic, hence, produce both male and female gametes that unite to form the zygote. But in prokaryotic type, they produce motile spores that later divide by mitosis and grow into a new organism.

The Algae belong to the kingdom Protista. Algae is an umbrella term for many organisms that live in the water and which perform the function of photosynthesis. Most of the algae are found to be unicellular, but there also exist multicellular algae. They can be microscopic or macroscopic, in different shapes and sizes and can also have a leafy appearance like in the case of Giant Kelp. They lack a vascular system that circulates nutrients throughout the organism, which is present in higher plants. 

Algae can include both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. In the prokaryotic organisms, there is a distinctive organism called cyanobacteria. The cyanobacteria are also known as blue-green algae. In the primitive era, during the formation of the earth, it is approximated that chloroplasts were only present in cyanobacteria. Plant organisms engulfed the cyanobacteria and thus photosynthesis was induced in the plants. Since then, plants perform the function of photosynthesis, and life could sustain on earth. But cyanobacteria are included in the kingdom monera as they do not have a well-defined nucleus. 


Fungi are organisms that were first thought to be a part of plants. But later, as technology developed, it was observed that these organisms did not require sunlight for their nutrition. They neither perform photosynthesis nor have distinctive features like other higher plants like angiosperms. There is a range of simple to complex varieties of organisms present in Fungi. Fungi include all bodies from simple unicellular to complex multicellular organisms.

Fungi are organisms that obtain their nutrition from degrading and breaking down dead and rotten plants. There are fungi like yeast which are single-celled bodies that are economically important as it is used in the food and beverage industries. Fungi like mushrooms are one of the favorite cuisines of many countries. Mushrooms can also be harmful, which can damage the cells in the organism due to the presence of toxins in mushrooms. 

The multicellular fungi cells are joined together and form rows that resemble that of branches of trees. These branches are called hyphae and are of two types. If the cells are arranged right next to each other in a continuous row, then it is called coenocytic hyphae. If a cross wall separates the hyphae into compartments, then it is called septate hyphae. The fungi cannot perform photosynthesis on their own and produce food. They decompose the organic matter to derive their nutrition, and hence they are heterotrophs.

Difference Between Algae and Fungi



Algae belong to two different taxonomic classifications. Cyanobacteria variety belongs to Kingdom Monera, and the algae types kelps and phytoplanktons belong to Kingdom Protista.

Fungi have their taxonomic classification and belong only to one kingdom type called Kingdom Mycota; this classification is based on the properties and functions of the organisms.

Algae are aquatic organisms and require an ample amount of water to perform functions like photosynthesis.

Fungi are terrestrial organisms, and comparatively do not require as much water that is needed for algae.

Algae require sunlight for performing the process of photosynthesis. They make their food and do not depend on other organisms; hence they are autotrophs. 

Fungi do not require sunlight as they do not perform the process of photosynthesis. They depend on dead and decayed matter for their nutrition and hence are heterotrophs.

Algae contain a pigment called chlorophyll, which induces green color to the plants. 

Fungi do not contain chlorophyll and hence are not green in color.

The word algae take its origin from the Latin word "alga," which translates into "seaweed."

The word Fungi (singular Fungus) is itself a Latin word, which means "Mushroom."

Algae produce food and are not parasitic.

A few species of fungi like the powdery mildew and the downy mildew are examples of parasites in Fungi.

Since they perform photosynthesis, they only store the food produced in the form of starch.

Since they do not perform photosynthesis, they only store the food in the form of glycogen and oil globules.

The cell wall of algae is primarily composed of a polymer called cellulose, which is not digestible by the human gut but can be digested by other domestic animals.

The cell wall of the fungi is made of a type of structure called Chitin that consists of polysaccharides and is also present in the cell walls of arthropods.

The body of algae is filamentous and parenchymatous.

The body of fungi is filamentous and pseudo-parenchymatous.

All of the organisms in this type contain only uninucleated cells, where only one nucleus is present in one cell.

Few of the organisms in this type contain multinucleated cells where more than one nucleus can exist in one cell.



Algae are autotrophs that produce their own food; they are a central component of the ecosystem as they provide almost 70% of the oxygen. They are the primary producers of the ecosystem; most of the aquatic organisms depend on them for their nutrients. They do not have developed roots, leaves, and shoot systems. 

Fungi, on the other hand, are decomposers that gain their nutrition by  breaking the dead and decayed organic matter. They have structures that resemble branches called hyphae, which are only present in multicellular organisms. They are also of ecological importance as decomposition of dead matter cleans the environment and also provides nutrients for the soil to grow. And also of economic significance as yeasts are used in the food industry, and mushrooms are an essential cuisine for humans and animals.