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Characteristics of Fungi

Did you know the fact that fungi lack chlorophyll? This type of life form can cause diseases in humans and can also be used to make cheese by the process of fermentation. Read this BiologyWise article, which explains various characteristics of fungi.
BiologyWise Staff
The plural of fungus is "fungi", and it is one of the five kingdoms of organisms. Kingdom Fungi is further grouped into four major subgroups; they are imperfect fungi, sac fungi, club fungi, and conjugating fungi. Are you aware that even molds, yeasts, mildew, and mushrooms belong to the kingdom of fungi? There are over 200,000 species of fungi. However, only 100,000 have been identified. The study of fungi is known as mycology.
Distinguishing Characteristics
  • The non-motile cells belong to the kingdom Fungi.
  • The cell walls of these non-motile cells are made of chitin.
  • Fungi are heterotrophic organisms. The only difference between other heterotrophic animals and fungi is that fungi digest and then ingest the food. Fungi release enzymes on the body of the other living things and thrive on them.
  • Fungi lack chlorophyll, which is a pigment used by plants to produce food. Most types of fungi are saprophytic in nature, which implies that they feed on dead and decaying matter.
  • There is no embryonic stage for fungi. A fungus develops from spores, and are both sexual and asexual.
  • Though most of the fungi are single cellular, most of the fungi species grow as multicellular filaments called hyphae. The hyphae form a mass called the mycelium.
  • An interesting characteristic of fungi is that like a plant, fungi too has an alternation of generations.
  • The cytoplasmic ultrastructure is similar to plant cells. However, they differ significantly in their structures and organelles.
  • Fungi store their food in the form of glycogen.
  • The cell membrane of a fungus has a unique sterol and ergosterol.
  • Some types of fungi are parasitic and can lead to infections, thus, affecting the host.
  • Many of the fungi have a small nuclei with repetitive DNA.
  • Mitosis takes place without dissolution of the nuclear envelop.
  • They propagate through the process of spore release.
  • Pheromone is a chemical substance produced by fungi, which leads to the sexual reproduction between male and female fungi cells.
  • Some fungi are macroscopic and can be seen by naked eyes. Mold or mushrooms are examples of macroscopic form of fungi.
Remember, fungi are not dependent on light and can grow in any direction. They have the ability to invade the interior of a substrate with absorptive filaments. Some argue that a fungus belongs to the animal kingdom, while there are some who think fungi should belong to plants. However, recent molecular evidence suggests that fungi are closely related to animals than to plants.