24.1 Characteristics of Fungi
Fungi, latin for mushroom, are eukaryotes which are responsible for decomposition and nutrient cycling through the environment.
Cell Structure and Function
Fungi are unicellular or multicellular thick-cell-walled heterotroph decomposers that eat decaying matter and make tangles of filaments.
Fungi can reproduce asexually by fragmentation, budding, or producing spores, or sexually with homothallic or heterothallic mycelia.
24.2 Classifications of Fungi
Chytridiomycota: The Chytrids
Chytrids are the most primitive group of fungi and the only group that possess gametes with flagella.
Zygomycota: The Conjugated Fungi
Zygomycota, a small group in the fungi kingdom, can reproduce asexually or sexually, in a process called conjugation.
Ascomycota: The Sac Fungi
Most fungi belong to the Phylum Ascomycota, which uniquely forms of an ascus, a sac-like structure that contains haploid ascospores.
Basidiomycota: The Club Fungi
The basidiomycota are mushroom-producing fungi with developing, club-shaped fruiting bodies called basidia on the gills under its cap.
Deuteromycota: The Imperfect Fungi
Phylum Deuteromycota is a polyphyletic group of asexually-reproducing fungi that do not display a sexual phase; they are known as imperfect.
Glomeromycetes are an important group of fungi that live in close symbiotic association with the roots of trees and plants.
24.3 Ecology of Fungi
Habitat, Decomposition, and Recycling
Fungi are the major decomposers of nature; they break down organic matter which would otherwise not be recycled.
Mutualistic Relationships and Fungivores
Members of Kingdom Fungi form ecologically beneficial mutualistic relationships with cyanobateria, plants, and animals.
24.4 Fungal Parasites and Pathogens
Plant, Animal, and Human Parasites and Pathogens
From crop and food spoilage to severe infections in animal species, fungal parasites and pathogens are wide spread and difficult to treat.