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Subphyla incertae sedis
A fungus (plural: fungi) is a living organism that includes yeasts, moulds, mushrooms and others. Fungi have thin thread-like cells called hyphae that absorb nutrients and hold the fungus in place. Some, such as mushrooms, also have a body containing many cells. Fungi do not have chlorophyll to capture energy from sunlight as plants do. Instead, they are nourished by digesting dead organic matter around them and absorbing it. The study of fungi is called mycology.
The cells of fungi have nuclei, unlike the cells of bacteria. Hyphae sometimes have many nuclei. Their cell walls contain chitin, unlike the cell walls of plants, which contain cellulose. These and other differences show that the fungi form a single group of related organisms. The group of fungi is called the Eumycota or Eumycetes. They share a common ancestor: they are a monophyletic group.
Fungi came into existence about 1000 million years ago. They are found in fossils from the Devonian period, and they are probably much older. They are hard to find in older fossils because they decay rapidly.
Structure[change | change source]
Reproduction[change | change source]
Fungi reproduce both sexually and asexually. Some fungi grow mushrooms: these are fruiting bodies. Under the cap there are gills; the gills bear spores that will disperse, and may develop into new fungi. Otherwise, fungi use a sporangium to bear asexual spores by mitosis, or sexual spores by meiosis. The spores are haploid.
Mycelium[change | change source]
Hyphae[change | change source]
Hyphae look like threads or tiny roots. The mycelium is a mat of hyphae that may be very thickly woven. The fungus uses them to extract nutrients. Each hypha is a long cell inside a tube-shaped cell wall that grows from the end.
Symbiosis[change | change source]
Symbiosis means living together. Lichens are a symbiosis between a fungus and an alga or bacterium. In this partnership the algal cells live inside the fungus tissue. The result is a new mat-like life-form which clings to rock and other surfaces. About 20% of all fungi live as part of a lichen.
Another important kind of symbiosis is mycorrhiza. This is when a fungus lives inside plant roots; most trees have mycorrhizal roots, and so do many crop plants. Both the fungus and the plant benefit in this arrangement.
Pathogens[change | change source]
Some fungi cause crop diseases; others cause serious disease in humans. Some are highly poisonous: never eat a mushroom picked in the wild unless you know what you are doing.
Uses[change | change source]
- Edible fungi are widely used as human food. Certain types of cheese need a fungal species to be added. Blue cheese and Camembert cheese are examples of those types of cheese. The fungi give a unique flavor and texture to the cheese.
- Some fungi produce psychotropic (mind-altering) substances. Some people take these fungi recreationally for their psychedelic properties. These psychedelic mushrooms are often called magic mushrooms because they can cause hallucinations. As with any drug, their effect ends after a certain amount of time. Most "magic mushrooms" last for 4 to 6 hours. Because of their mind-altering effects they are illegal in many countries around the world. However, scientists are also researching ways to use "magic mushrooms" as medicine.
- In modern times, some fungi (for example, penicillin) have been used as a source of antibiotics. The antibiotics are produced by many fungi as a natural defence against bacteria.
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- Jennings D.H. & Lysek G. 1996. Fungal biology: understanding the fungal lifestyle. Guildford, UK: Bios Scientific Publishers . ISBN 978-1-85996-150-6
- Kirk P.M. et al 2008. Dictionary of the fungi, 10th ed. Wallingford, UK: CAB. ISBN 0-85199-826-7
- Margulis L. Schwartz K.V. & Dolan M. 1999. Diversity of life: the illustrated guide to the five kingdoms. Jones & Bartlett, Sudbury MA.
- Lücking R, Huhndorf S, Pfister DH, Plata ER, Lumbsch HT (2009). "Fungi evolved right on track". Mycologia. 101 (6): 810–22. doi:10.3852/09-016. PMID 19927746. S2CID 6689439.
- Taylor T.N; Taylor E. & Krings M. 2009. Paleobotany: the evolution of fossil plants, Chapter 2. Precambrian life, p43. 2nd ed. Academic Press, Burlington MA 01803
- Stamets, P. (2000). Growing gourmet and medicinal mushrooms [Shokuyō oyobi yakuyō kinoko no saibai]. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press. pp. 233–248. ISBN 978-1-58008-175-7.
- Kinsella, JE; Hwang, DH (1976). "Enzymes of Penicillium roqueforti involved in the biosynthesis of cheese flavor". Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 8 (2): 191–228. doi:10.1080/10408397609527222. PMID 21770.
- Schenberg, Eduardo Ekman (2018). "Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy: a paradigm shift in psychiatric research and development". Frontiers in Pharmacology. 9 (1): 42–56. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00733. PMC 1139580. PMID 3511336.
- Wainwright, M.; Swan, H.T. (1986). "C.G. Paine and the earliest surviving clinical records of penicillin therapy". Medical History. 1 (1): 42–56. doi:10.1017/s0025727300045026. PMC 1139580. PMID 3511336.