What is Fungi?

Fungi is a heterotrophic, eukaryotic organism. Many times we find black dots on stale bread, yeast is used to make bread and beer, white spots on mustard leaves, mushrooms, are all examples of kingdom fungi. Fungi multiply and grow only under moist and warm conditions. Moreover, the total species of fungi that are known is more than 2,00,000.

 

Fungi or funguses is the plural of fungus. This is defined as a member of the group of the eukaryotic organisms that may incorporate microorganisms like molds and yeasts as well as mushrooms are also there in the list. An attribute that categorizes fungi from other kingdoms such as bacteria, plants and a few protists in their cell walls. This is how you can get to know and understand the term in simple words. 


Now that you are familiar with the meaning of fungi, let us understand the other important aspects. 


Structure of Fungi

The structure of fungi contains the following:

  • It mainly includes four parts, namely:

    • Sporangium

    • Spores

    • Food source

    • Hyphae

  • Apart from unicellular yeasts, the fungi are filamentous. 

  • The fungi can be both multicellular and unicellular.

  • The fungi are formed of hyphae. The hyphae are long, thread-like structures. The network of hyphae forming a mesh-like structure is called mycelium.

  • The fungi contain a cell wall that is formed of polysaccharides and chitin.

  • The nucleus of the fungi contains chromatin threads and is dense.

  • A cell membrane surrounds the nucleus.


Characteristics of Fungi

The characteristics of fungi include the following:

  • The fungi are eukaryotic and non-vascular organisms. 

  • They do not contain chloroplast, which leads to the absence of photosynthesis.

  • The fungi grow slower compared to bacteria.

  • Both sexual and asexual modes of reproduction can take place in fungi.

  • Reproduction in fungi takes place through spores.

  • The nuclear envelope does not dissolve during mitosis.

  • Sexual reproduction in fungi happens because of the production of a chemical called Pheromone.

  • There is no embryonic stage in fungi.


Classification of Fungi

According to the fungi definition, they are classified mainly on two bases:

  • Based on nutrition mode

  • Based on spore formation

 

Based on Nutrition Mode

Based on nutrition, the fungi are classified as follows:

  • Saprophytic: They live and obtain their nutrition from dead organic matter. E.g., Penicillium, Rhizopus, Mucor, etc. These are mainly of two types, namely:

  1. Ectophytic Saprophytes: The fungi grow on the surface.

  2. Endophytic Saprophytes: The fungi grow inside the body of organic matter.

  • Parasitic: They obtain their nutrition from hosts, i.e., other living or dead organisms. They harm the hosts by causing disease conditions. The relationship between the host and parasite is called parasitism. 

The parasites are of two types, based on location:

  1. Endoparasites: They live inside the body of the host.

  2. Ectoparasite: They live on the surface of the host.

  • Symbiotic: They obtain their nutrition and grow on other living organisms. This allows the mutual benefit of both organisms. E.g., lichens and mycorrhiza.

 

Based on Spore Formation

Based on spore formation, the fungi are classified as follows:

 

Phycomycetes: 

  • We find these in moist surfaces, decaying wood or aquatic habitats. 

  • The mycelium is septate and coenocytic.

  • Some common examples include Mucor, Rhizopus and Albugo.

 

Ascomycetes: 

  • We commonly call this sac-fungi.

  • They are mostly found in multicellular form and rarely in unicellular form. 

  • In ascomycetes, the mycelium is in a branched and separate form.

  • They are saprophytic, decomposers, or parasitic. 

  • Some examples include Aspergillus, Claviceps and Neurospora.

 

Basidiomycetes: 

  • They grow in soil, tree stumps or even logs.

  • Their mycelium is in a separate and branched form. 

  • The sex organs are absent.

  • Mushrooms are the most common form of basidiomycetes.

  • Some common examples include Agaricus, Ustilago and Puccinia. 

 

Deuteromycetes:

  • They are also known as imperfect fungi.

  • We only know the vegetative phase of these fungi.

  • They reproduce by conidia, which are the asexual spores.

  • Their mycelium is also in a separate and branched form.

  • Some common examples include Alternaria, Colletotrichum and Trichoderma. 


Reproduction in Fungi

The reproduction in fungi takes place in the following ways:

  • Sexual reproduction through oospores, ascospores and basidiospores.

  • Asexual reproduction through conidia, zoospores and sporangiospores.

  • Vegetative reproduction through fragmentation, budding and fission.

 

Uses of Fungi

The fungi have several uses, which include:

  • They are a substantial source of vitamin C (citric aid).

  • They are involved in the production of antibiotics, such as penicillin.

  • Fungi are used for food fermentation, including cheese and bread.

  • Mushrooms are a type of fungi and are edible.

  • They are used for brewing alcoholic beverages.

The pointers perfectly guide you for the self-study purpose. The language by the Vedantu tutors has been kept comprehension and easy to get familiar with the concept in a lesser time. 


If you are having any queries related to the topic appearing in your mind or feeling confused at the point in time, no worry, you will be able to sort them out as Vedantu is there to assist you round the clock. You can either raise your queries in the online sessions or you can simply write them to us, it will be resolved as soon as possible. 

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FAQs on Kingdom Fungi

1. How do Fungi Obtain their Food?

The fungi are heterotrophs, so they obtain their food and nutrition from host bodies. The fungi obtain their food by making their growth on other living organisms. Moreover, it gets food from that specific organism. Other sorts of fungi receive their food from the dead matter. In addition to this, such types of fungi break down or decompose dead animals and plants. It is considered that most parts of the fungi receive food from the dead parts. 

2. How do Fungi Reproduce?

The fungi reproduce through three methods, namely:

  1. Sexual

  2. Asexual

  3. Vegetative

The sexual reproduction of fungi comprises three stages in a sequence that are meiosis, karyogamy, and plasmogamy. The chromosomes named diploid are torn into two daughter cells where each one of them contains a single chromosome set. 


Asexually reproduction is considered by budding, fragmentation or producing spores. Fragments of hyphae may grow fresh colonies. If we talk about mycelial fragmentation then it happens at the time of separation of mycelium fragmenting into pieces and each mycelium grows as a separate. 


Vegetative reproduction is also known as vegetative propagation. Here hypha breaks into different fragments generally as an accident. Examples of this are budding, fission, rhizomorphs, and more to name. 

3. What is the Mode of Nutrition in Fungi?

The fungi absorb their food from cell membranes and cannot ingest solid food as they are heterotrophs. The fungi cannot make their food. There are varied sources from where the fungi get their nutrients such as organic matter and from dead matter as they are known as saprophytes. Fungi generate some sort of digestive enzymes for the purpose of breaking down tough food into simple types of food. Such type of simple food is consumed by fungi. This is also named saprophytic nutrition. 

4. What is the use of Penicillin?

Penicillin is an antibiotic that is used to fight and treat several bacterial infections. Penicillin potassium works as an antibiotic and is used for treating specific infections that are usually caused by bacteria like pneumonia and other sorts of infections related to the respiratory tract. Next to this, the other types of infections might be gum, skin, fever, ear, throat, mouth, and more to mention. In all, Penicillin is an effective method to fight against varied types of bacterial infections. 

5. Who Coined the term ‘Fungus’?

Gaspard Bauhin gave the term fungus. In the year 1973, the plural form of fungus was also coined by Carolus Linnaeus. He named its fungi. The gist of it has been derived from the Latin meaning mushroom which means fungus. It is also known as a plant class. If you are wondering what was the first fungi on the earth then the answer is Tortotubus protuberance fossils. This is a filamentous fungus dating back to the early Silurian period and it is remembered as the oldest fossils from terrestrial organisms.  If you want to learn about fungi in a simple language, then Vedantu is the right destination for you to opt for.  


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