Characteristics of fungi

Published on June 9, 2010
A fungus is a eukaryotic organism. Fungi do not contain chlorophyll like algae, so they have to absorb (not ingest) food to survive. The most familiar fungi are molds, yeasts and mushrooms. Fungi can be unicellular or multicellular. While some fungi help to remove dead plant and animal remains, others grow into the roots of plants where they have a symbiotic relationship, helping each other survive. Some types of fungus cause illnesses in humans (e.g., opportunistic pathogens in immunosuppressed people, such as aspergillosis or candidiasis), while others help to cure (penicillin).

Fungi are not able to move as protists do, using pseudopods, etc. Rather, they grow larger, or grow in certain directions.
We should understand that fungi grow through the expansion of their hyphae, which are filamentous cells. Together, these cells are called mycellium (the vegetative part of a fungus), which can grow to be very large.

Fungi can reproduce sexually, where mating results in meiosis with haploid and diploid stages, or asexually by making duplicates of themselves, such as by budding. (e.g.,the imperfect fungus Penicillium).
Similar to seeds, asexual fungi produce spores, which contain the genetic material of the fungus

Fungi can be found almost everywhere (water, trees, plants, food, soil). They do particularly well in places where there is moisture, such as with damp trees. Perhaps the best place to find large fungi (as many are microscopic) is in the woods. Fungi and trees support each other, as fungi becomes part of the tree root. This is called a mycorrhizal association. Other fungi can be commonly seen growing out of the sides of trees.

Some mircobiologists estimate that although 90% of all fungi are yet to be discovered,
about 75,000 species have already been identified. Fungi can be microscopic such as unicellular yeasts, or multicellular such as molds. Other fungi are large, such as mushrooms. Two big classifications of fungi are those which grow on dead things (saprophytic), and those which grow on living things (parasitic).

    1. Anonymous February 27, 2011
    2. Austin Fehrer August 9, 2012

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