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  • Eukaryotic 
  • Do not contain chlorophyll
  • Nonphotosynthetic
  • Absorptive heterotrophs – digest food first & then absorb it into their bodies
  • Release digestive enzymes to break down organic material or their host
  • Store food energy as glycogen
  • Most are saprobes – live on other dead organisms
  • Important decomposers & recyclers of nutrients in the environment
  • Most are multicellular, but some unicellular like yeast
  • Some are internal or external parasites; a few are predators that capture prey
  • Nonmotile
  • Lack true roots, stems, & leaves
  • Cell walls are made of chitin (a complex polysaccharide)
  • Grow as microscopic tubes or filaments called hyphae that contain cytoplasm & nuclei
  • Hyphal networks are called mycelium
  • Some are edible
  • Reproduce by sexual & asexual spores
  • Antibiotic penicillin comes from Penicillium mold
  • Classified by their sexual reproductive structures
  • Grow best in warm, moist environments preferring shade
  • Mycology – study of fungi
  • Fungicide – chemicals used to kill fungi
  • Includes yeasts, molds, mushrooms, ringworm, puffballs, rusts, smuts, etc.
  • Fungi may have evolved from prokaryotes by endosymbiosis

Vegetative (nonreproductive) Structures of Fungi

  • Body of a fungus made of tiny filaments or tubes called hyphae
  • Hyphae contain cytoplasm & nuclei and has a cell wall of chitin


  • Each hyphae is one continuous cell
  •  Hyphae continually grow & branch
  • Septum (septa-plural) are cross walls with pores to allow the movement of cytoplasm in hyphae
  • Hyphae with septa are called septate hyphae
  • Hyphae without septa are called coenocytic hyphae

  • Tangled mats of hyphae are known as mycelium
  • All hyphae within a mycelium share the same cytoplasm so materials move quickly
  • Hyphae grow rapidly from the tips by cell division
  • Stolon is a horizontal hyphae that connects groups of hyphae to each other
  • Rhizoids are rootlike parts of hyphae that anchor the fungus

Reproductive Structures

  • Most fungi reproduce asexually & sexually
  • Asexual reproduction produces genetically identical organisms & is the most common method used
  •  Sexual reproduction in fungi occurs when nutrients or water are scarce
  • Fruiting bodies are modified hyphae that make asexual spores
  • Fruiting bodies consist of an upright stalk or sporangiophore with a sac containing spores called the sporangium


  • Types of fruiting bodies include basidia, sporangia, & ascus
  • Spores – haploid cells with dehydrated cytoplasm & a protective coat capable of developing into new individuals
  • Wind, animals, water, & insects spread spores
  • When spore lands on moist surface, new hyphae form

Asexual Reproduction in Fungi

  • Fungi reproduce asexually when environmental conditions are favorable
  • Some unicellular fungi reproduce by mitosis
  • Yeast cells reproduce by budding where a part of the cell pinches off to produce more yeast cells

  • Athlete’s foot fungus reproduce by fragmentation from a small piece of mycelium
  • Most fungi reproduce asexually by spores
  • Penicillium mold produces spores called conidia without a protective sac on the top of a stalk called the conidiophore

Sexual Reproduction in Fungi

  • Fungi reproduce sexually when environmental conditions are unfavorable
  • No male or female fungi
  •  Two mating types — plus (+) and minus (-)
  • Fertilization occurs when (+) hyphae fuse with (-) hyphae to form a 2N or diploid zygote
  • Some fungi show dimorphism (ability to change their form in response to their environmental conditions)

Classification of Fungi

  • Fungi are classified by their reproductive structures
  • The 4 phyla of fungi are Basidiomycota, Zygomycota, Ascomycota, & Deuteromycota


  • Called sporangium fungi or common molds
  • Includes molds & blights such as Rhizopus stolonifer (bread mold)

  • No septa in hyphae (coenocytic)
  • Asexual reproductive structure called sporangium & produces sporangiospores
  • Rhizoids anchor the mold, release digestive enzymes, & absorb food
  • Asexual reproductive structure called sporangium & produces sporangiospores
  • Sexual spore produced by conjugation when (+) hyphae & (-) fuse is called zygospore
  • Zygospores can endure harsh environments until conditions improve & new sporangium




  • Called club fungi
  •  Includes mushrooms, toadstools, puffballs, bracket fungi, shelf fungi, stinkhorns, rusts, & smuts
  • Some are used as food (mushroom) & others cause crop damage (rusts & smuts)
  • Seldom reproduce asexually
  • Basdiocarp made up of stalk called the stipe & a flattened cap
  • Stipe may have a skirt like ring below cap called the annulus
  • Gills are found on the underside of the cap & are lined with basidia
  • Basidium – sexual reproductive structure that make basidiospores
  • Basidiospores are released from the gills & germinate to form new hyphae & mycelia
  • Vegetative structures found below ground & include rhizoids (anchor & absorb nutrients), hyphae, & mycelia


  • Called sac fungi
  • Includes yeast, cup fungi, truffles, powdery mildew, & morels

  • Some are parasites causing Dutch elm disease & chestnut blight
  • Sac Fungi can reproduce both sexually and asexually
  •  Yeast reproduce asexually by budding (form small, bud-like cells that break off & make more yeasts)
  • Asexual spores called conidia form on the tips of specialized hyphae called condiophores
  • Ascocarp – specialized hyphae formed by parent fungi during sexual reproduction
  • Ascus – sacs within the ascocarp that form spores called ascospores


  • Symbiotic association between a sac fungus & a photosynthetic green algae or cyanobacteria
  • Both organisms benefit (algae makes food & fungus supplies moisture, shelter, & anchorage)
  • Grow on rocks, trees, buildings, etc. & help form soil
  • Crustose lichens grow on rocks & trees; fructose lichens grow shrub-like; foliose lichens grow mat-like on the soil


  • Symbiotic association of a fungus living on plant roots
  • Most plants have mycorrhizae on their roots
  • Fungus absorbs sugars made by plant
  • Plants absorb more water & minerals with aid of the fungus

Importance of Fungi

  • Fungal spores cause allergies
  • Molds, mildew, rusts, & smuts damage crops
  • Yeasts are used to make beer & bread
  •  Antibiotic penicillin
  • Decomposers & recyclers of nutrients
  • Mushrooms eaten as food
  • Help form blue cheeses
  • Aspergillus is used to make soy sauce
  • Cause athlete’s foot & ringworm
  • Amanita is poisonous mushroom
  • Can cause yeast infections