Reproduction in Fungi

Reproduction in Fungi

Reproduction in fungi takes place by asexual or sexual means. Production of spores is observed in both these types of reproduction, though the genetic makeup of the spores varies. Read on to know more about the procreation process of fungi in this Buzzle article.
Studying about the characteristics of fungi is quite fascinating. Beginning from the simple structure to the complex mode of reproduction, they represent one of the most diverse species of eukaryotic organisms. Fungi are present in any kind of habitat. To be more precise, they are ubiquitous in distribution. Recent studies have led to the conclusion that fungi (singular fungus) are more closely related to animals, rather than plants. Hence, they are categorized in a separate group, different from those of microbes, plants, and animals. The branch of biology that deals with the study of fungi is called mycology.

Unlike plants, fungi lack the photosynthetic pigment (chlorophyll) and depend on others for food. They play a major role in decomposing the dead organisms and cleaning the environment, to make a sustainable place for other living entities. The versatile mode of reproduction in fungi is also responsible for their vast occurrence. Take the example of fungal reproduction by formation of spores. The spores are lightweight and disperse easily from one place to another, through wind, water, or other agents. In favorable conditions, the fungal spores germinate and develop into new fungi.

Fungal Reproduction: An Overview

Can you believe that more than 100,000 species of fungi have been identified scientifically? An exclusive example of fungi is mushroom, which all of us are acquainted with. They may either be edible or poisonous. Other familiar types of fungi are mold, yeast, rusts, etc. Fungi reproduce both sexually and asexually. Nevertheless, the mode of reproduction varies from one phyla to another. In fact, fungi are differentiated with respect to the spore type and sexual reproduction strategy. Following is some brief information concerning asexual and sexual reproduction of this life form.

Asexual Reproduction

This means of procreation is observed more frequently than sexual reproduction. Nearly all types of fungi have the ability to reproduce asexually. This in turn accounts for its widespread distribution. At a time, millions of asexual spores are released, and when these spores land on a fertile environment, they germinate into new individuals. The various types of asexual reproduction in fungi are spore formation, fragmentation, budding, and fission.

Out of these, vegetative spores or conidia are the most prevalent types. Under asexual spore formation, the fungal hyphae produces spores, either internally or externally. Fragmentation, as the term signifies, involves breaking of the fungal mycelium into several fragments. Each of the fragmented parts then develop into a new fungus. In case of budding, the parental cell protrudes a bud-like structure that bears the daughter nuclei. This bud breaks off and then grows into a new fungus.

Sexual Reproduction

Fungi reproduction by the sexual method is very complex. Though the basic phenomenon for fusion of male and female gametes remain the same, differences are observed amongst various types of fungi. As a part of the initiation phase in sexual reproduction cycle, compatible haploid hyphae come together. Subsequently, the male and female cells combine together, resulting in the formation of fertile diploid cells called spores. The spores are then released into the environment.

Except for glomeromycetes, sexual reproduction is observed in all kinds of fungi. As you can see, spores are produced in both asexual and sexual types of reproduction for this life form. The difference, however, lies in the genetic makeup of the spores. While those formed during asexual reproduction are vegetative, spores formed after sexual reproduction contain genomes of the parental fungal hyphae.