What is Rhizopus

It is the genus of common saprophytic fungi, which grows on plants and specialised parasites on plants. They have the ability to grow on wide organic substances including fruits and vegetables, bread, leather, etc. They are multicellular in nature and some rhizopus causes fungal infection and they cause fatal disease. They grow in filamentous, branching hyphae that generally lack cross-walls i.eThey are coenocytic.They reproduce by spore formation both by asexual and sexual mode of reproduction as sporangiospores are produced inside a spherical structure, the sporangium. Sporangia are supported by a large apophysis  atop a long stalk, the sporangiophore. In sexual reproduction, a dark zygospore is produced at the point where two compatible mycelia fuse. After germination, zygospores produced colonies which are genetically different from their parents.

Classification of Rhizopus

Kingdom: Fungi

Phylum: Zygomycota

Order: Mucorales

Family: Mucoraceae

Genus: Rhizopus

Features of Rhizopus

  1. They have a branching body known as mycelia.

  2. Majority of rhizopus are saprobic in nature i.e decomposer.

  3. They mainly feed on dead organic matter or organisms.

  4. They reproduce by spore formation.

  5. They are used for industrial purposes also like in the making of biotin, alcoholic beverages, etc.

Morphological Features of Rhizopus

  1. They are dark greyish-brown in color.

  2. Size of rhizoids are 10mm high.

  3. Sporangia are 100 micrometer in diameter.

Structure of Rhizopus

  1.  Mostly they are fast growing in nature and mainly have cottony appearance.

  2. Body of a rhizopus  contains branched mycelium and they are coenocytic in nature. They also consist of branched mycelium and mycelium is coenocytic in nature and composed of three types of hyphae, stolon rhizoids and sporangiophores. 

  3. Stolon is present in the internodal region, it is aerial, forms an arch and touches the substratum forming nodal region.

  4. Rhizoids are formed where the stolon touches the substratum at nodes.They have branching, anchor the mycelium to the substratum and they also absorb food.

  5. Apart from this there is a reproductive hyphae consisting of sporangiophores which grows vertically from stolon. They are unbranched, elongated, columellate and they also give rise to a reproductive structure known as sporangiospores. Given below are the different parts of hyphae:

  1. Cell-Wall: cell wall is composed of chitin, chitosan, lipids, proteins, etc. 

  2. Protoplasm: Protoplasm consists of nuclei, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and various other cytoplasmic inclusions like ribosomes, oil droplets, etc.

  3. Columella: It mainly arises from u- shaped sporangiophore and they are mainly hygroscopic in nature and their main function is absorption of water.

  4. Sporangium: It acts as a connecting link between columella and sporangiophore. They are mainly spherical or globose in shape. They also carry reproductive structure known as sporangiospores.

  5. Sporangiospores: They are known to be asexual spores and mainly unicellular in nature.

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Common Example of Rhizopus

Some common example of rhizopus species are:

  1. Rhizopus Arrhizus: They help in production of alcoholic beverages

  2.  Rhizopus Zygospores: they are used to make tempeh. 

  3.  Rhizopus Microsporus: It is used to ferment soybean products.

  4. Rhizopus Stolonifer: It is also known as black bread mould. They are also used in the production of chemicals, e.g. cortisone, fumaric acid, etc. Causes fruit rot disease.

Life Cycle of Rhizopus

Rhizopus Reproduces by Three Methods They Are Vegetative, Asxeaul and Sexual Mode.

  1. Vegetative Reproduction

Under this mode of reproduction small fragments are formed on the body surface of rhizopus and due to accidental breakage the stolon may break up into two or more than two small units and each unit or part is capable of growing as a mother mycelium.

  1.  Asexual Mode of Reproduction

It takes place in two ways either by formation of sporangiospore or by   formation of chlamydospore.

  1. By Sporangiospore Formation

Under favourable conditions the non-motile spores such as sporangiospores are formed inside the sporangium. Sporangium starts developing singly at the apex of sporangiophore and they further develop into tufts from the upper side of the node opposite to rhizoidal hyphae. This hyphae continue to grow upto certain height. Their nuclei and cytoplasm moved towards the apical region due to this enlargement in hyphae taking place and this enlarged part is known as sporangium. With time, proplast of sporangium is differentiated into thick dense layer of multinucleated cytoplasm and this differentiation occur towards the peripheral region and this wall is called as sporoplasm and the remaining vacuolated portion with few nuclei towards the center is known as columella plasm. After this a series of vacuoles appear between sporoplasm and columella plasm and these vacuoles become flattened and form a cleavage cavity. This leads to development of septum and they become dome shaped and force their way into the sporangium. After the maturation process, the wall of sporangium dries and collapses to form a cup shaped irregular surface. This sporangial wall gets raptured into different fragments leaving a small portion as a collar on the sporangiophore. The powdery remains of spores are scattered in the atmosphere. 

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  1. Chlamydospores

This type of axeual reproduction occurs by formation of zoospores, aplanospores, hypnospores, or a palmella stage. As during unfavourable conditions like lack of food material and water, the protoplasm gets surrounded by thick and nutrient rich walls. Then this chlamydospore gets detached from vegetative hyphae and they remain in resting phase and when this chlamydomonas gets enough moisture they undergo the formation of germ tube which leads to formation of new thallus.

  1. Sexual Mode of Reproduction

    Sexual mode of reproduction in rhizopus occurs in various steps they are:

  1. Under this positive and negative thallus comes in contact with each other.

  2. After coming in contact conjugation between male and female thalli occurs by the means of outgrowth of positive and negative thalli.

  3. Due to this conjugation septum is developed between progametangia and plasmogamy. This leads to the formation of coenogametes.

  4. Due to the conjugation process of gametes, karyogamy occurs which leads to the formation of zygote. 

  5. Further zygote undergoes maturation process and gets surrounded by thick walled structure zygospore,which covers both outer as well as inner layer.

  6. For some time zygospores undergo a resting phase and under favourable condition zygospore form a germ tube and germinates into a new vegetative body

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Give Classification of Rhizopus?

Rhizopus are classified into following categories:

          Kingdom: Fungi

          Phylum: Zygomycota

          Order: Mucorales

          Family: Mucoraceae

          Genus: Rhizopus

2. Explain Different Modes of Reproduction in Rhizopus?

Rhizopus reproduces by three different modes, they are:

  1. Vegetative reproduction: By formation of different fragments which leads to formation of different individuals.

  2. Asexual mode of reproduction: It takes place in two ways either by formation of sporangiospore or by formation of chlamydospore.

  3. Sexual mode of reproduction: Under this type two different positive and negative thalli fuse to form new individuals.