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Biology / Fungi

Kingdom Fungi

The organisms in Kingdom Fungi are heterotrophs but are not animals. Other than Mushrooms, most of the Fungi are commonly known as Molds. Fungi are saprotrophic (feeding on dead organic matter) and osmotrophic (taking dissolved organic matter by osmosis) in their nutrition. Most of the fungi act as decomposers. Some fungi cause diseases both in plants and animals. Study of fungi is called Mycology or Mycetology. Examples of Fungi are Yeast, Mushrooms and Moulds.

Facts about Fungi

Some interesting facts about Fungi are given below,

  • The main characteristic features of Fungi are their body is filamentous or threadish in nature and is known as Mycelium. They are reproduced by spores. The branches of Mycelium are known as Hyphae.

  • Yeast is the unicellular fungus used in the preparation of bread, sauce, beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages.

  • All the mushrooms are fungi. Few mushrooms are edible, e.g. Agaricus. The fungus, which is used in genetic experiments, is Neurospora crassa.

  • Various species of the fungus Penicillium yield different types of Penicillins.

  • Lichens - It is a symbiotic association between a fungus and an algae. They are considered pioneers of plant succession in deserts.

  • Mycorrhiza - It is a symbiotic association between a fungus and the roots of the plants. The fungus in association with roots provide nutrients to the plants and in turn get shelter. Fungi that produce Mycorrhiza are Gigaspora, Glomus, Sclerocystis, etc.

  • Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza (VAM) is the most promising type of bio-fertilizers of today.

  • All colored mushrooms are poisonous. All white mushrooms are not edible. Examples of poisonous mushrooms are Amanita, Russula, Helvella, etc.

  • Mycotoxins (fungal toxins) are fungal toxins produced by various species of fungi. Aflatoxins are fungal toxins released by fungus Aspergillus flavus. It is mostly seen in peanuts.

  • Fungal diseases - Fungi are completely opportunistic and attack weak bodies. Around 50 different fungus species cause diseases in man.

    Some important fungal diseases are Tinea/Ringworm, Athlete's foot (ringworm in foot), Candidiasis (it is caused by Candida albicans), Piedra (a condition of black or white colored flakes on hair shaft caused by fungus), Mycetismus (a fungal disease caused by poisonous mushrooms), etc.