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a) Characteristics:
1. Fungi are eukaryotic.
2. Their basic body consists of a mass of netlike filaments called hyphae. The entire mass is
called mycelium.
3. Most fungal hyphae are divided into cells by cross walls called septa.
4. Some fungi are aseptate, lacking cross walls.

b) Diversity
There are four divisions of fungi based on variation in reproduction:

(i) Zygomycota consists of aseptate Zygomycetes. Asexually, Zygomycetes can reproduce by

spores at the tip of hyphae, called sporangia (singular: sporangium). They can also sexually
reproduced by producing zygosporangia, which will remain dormant when conditions are not
suitable for growth. The black bread mold Rhizopus stolonifer is an example of Zygomycetes.

Vegetative (asexual) reproduction of Zygomycetes

(ii) Ascomycetes from Ascomycota have septate mycelium. They can reproduce via
vegetative and sexual structures. They are reproducing by chains of spores called conidia at
the tip of specialized hyphae conidiophore asexually. An example is Penicillium. The sexual
reproductive structure is the ascus (plural: asci), which is a small sac-like structure. These asci
are packed into large fruiting structures called ascocarps releasing ascspores. One of the
examples of Ascomyteces is Saccharomyces (yeast).

Figure 1: Asexual reproduction of Penicillium.

Figure 2: The typical life cycle of Ascomycetes.

Step 1 and 2 : two compatible haploid hyphae become intertwined and form an ascogonium
and an antheridium
Step 3 : cup-shaped ascocarp is formed
Step 4 : asci begin to form on the surface of the ascocarp
Step 5 : diploid nucleus is formed
Step 6 : meiosis occurs, producing four haploid nuclei
Step 7 : the ascus now contains eight haploid nuclei after mitosis
Step 8 : the nuclei developed into ascospores and release from the surface of ascocarp
Step 9 : haploid mycelium arises from ascospores
Step 10 : if compatible haploid hypha is absent, the haploid mycelium will produce
asexual spores (conidia) by segmentation of its hyphae

(iii) Basidomycota includes mushroom and puffball. Basidomycetes sexually reproduce by
producing basidiospores on basidium.

Figure 3: The typical life cycle of Basidiomycetes.

Step 1 and 2 : two haploid hyphae of opposite mating types fuse to produce a dikaryotic
Step 3 : the hypha is producing fruiting body under favourable conditions
Step 4 : basidia is forming on the surface of the gills
Step 5 : diploid nucleus is formed in each basidium
Step 6 : meiosis occurs and four haploid nuclei eventually develop into basidiospores
Step 7 : dispersion of basidiospores