There are many different organisms in the fungal lineage which include mushrooms, rusts, smuts, puffballs, truffles, morels, moulds and yeasts, as well as many lesser known organisms. fungi are eukaryotic and heterotrophic organisms which posess a chitinous cell wall. Sexual and asexual reproduction of the fungi is commonly via spores, often produced on specialized structures or in fruiting bodies. Some species have lost the ability to form reproductive structures, and propagate solely by vegetative growth.
Fungi are abundant in soil, vegetation, water and on decaying material and wood. Fungi have a eukaryotic cell structure and are able to grow as branching or filamentous forms (mycelia) or as single cells (yeasts).
The study of fungi is called mycology. Fungi are fundamental for life on earth in their roles as symbionts and by playing a role in xenobiotics, a critical step in the global carbon cycle. Many fungi produce toxins, antibiotics, and other secondary metabolites, some of which cause diseases of animals (as well as plants).
Although there are over 50,000 identified species of fungi, only a few hundred are known to be pathogenic, causing infections known as mycoses (mycology being the study of fungi). Fungi are nonphotosynthetic organisms (lack chlorophyll) which are restricted to a parasitic or saprophytic existence. They are abundant in soil, vegetation, water and on decaying vegetation and wood. Fungi have a eukaryotic cell structure and are able to grow as branching or filamentous forms (mycelia) or as single cells (yeasts).
Special accreditation for the use of lecture notes, images and input from:
Professor Andrew N. Rycroft, BSc, PHD, C. Biol.F.I.Biol., FRCPath
- Carter and Chengappa: Essentials of Veterinary Bacteriology and Mycology, Fourth edition
Test yourself with the Fungi Flashcards
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