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Study Guides
Page 1 of 1
v1.1.11.2012
This guide was created by Courtney Chuang and Jin Yu. To learn more about
the student authors, visit http://www.ck12.org/about/about-us/team/interns.
Fungi are eukaryotes that belong to kingdom Fungi. While many fungi are multi-cellular, some are also single-celled,
such as yeast. Fungi are divided into many phyla, but the three most common are zygomycota, basidiomycota, and
ascomycota. Fungi are usually classifed based on structure and method of sexual reproduction. All fungi, however,
are heterotrophic, deriving and absorbing their organic compounds from the environment around them. Fungi are key
members of any habitat.
Key Terms
General Characteristics Reproduction
Fungi (singular, fungus): Kingdom in the domain Eukarya that includes molds, mushrooms, and yeasts.
Chitin: A polysaccharide found only in the cell walls of fungi.
Hyphae (singular, hypha): The flaments of multicellular fungi.
Mycelium (plural, mycelia): The body of a fungus comprised of a mass of hyphae.
Asexual Spores: Many multi-cellular fungi reproduce asexually by producing haploid spores by mitosis.
Budding: Type of asexual reproduction in yeasts in which an offspring cell pinches off from the parent cell.
Zygospore: Diploid spore in fungi that is produced by the fusion of two haploid parent cells.
Mycorrhiza: The symbiotic relationship formed between a fungus and a plant.
Lichen: The symbiotic association between a fungus and a photosynthetic organism.
Big Picture
Fungi can reproduce both asexually and sexually. They
spend most of their life cycle as haploid. Diploid cells only
form during sexual reproduction.
Asexual reproduction allows fungi to spread quickly.
Most fungi reproduce asexually by producing spores.
Spores do not require fertilization and are genetically
identical to the parent fungus.
Spores can be moved by water, wind, or other organ-
isms.
Yeast reproduces by budding. In budding, the off-
spring forms by pinching off the parent.
Sexual reproduction increases genetic variation.
Many multi-cellular fungi also undergo sexual repro-
duction.
In sexual reproduction, hyphae from two different
mating types of the same species fuse, forming
a zygospore, a diploid spore. Meiosis creates
genetically different haploid cells that can develop into
new hypahe.
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Figure: Hyphae
Fungi cells have cell walls made out of chitin, not
cellulose.
Multicellular fungi have hyphae, which look like
little threads.
A hypha consists of one or more cells surrounded
by a tubular cell wall.
A network of hyphae called mycelium make up
the body of the fungus.
Mycelium can be very small or very large.
Fungi
Symbiotic Relationships
Parasitic fungi can cause illness and eventual death.
Major cause of disease in agricultural plants
Some types of fungi can grow as a parasite on
animals
Athletes foot is a parasitic fungus that grows on
humans
Fungi can also form mutualistic relationship.
In mycorrhiza, fungus grows in or on plant roots.
The fungus has easy access to food, while the plant
gets help in absorbing water and nutrients.
In lichen, fungus grows around the photosynthetic
organism. The fungus gets a constant supply of
food, while the photosynthetic organism gets help in
absorbing water and nutrients.
Role in the World
A common use of fungi in our society is as a source of
food. For example, we eat many types of mushroom,
the fruiting body of a fungus, and we use yeast to bake
bread.
Fungi also play an important role in medicine, producing
chemicals and antibiotics, such as penicillin, that have
revolutionized treatment of human diseases and
infections.
In the world at large, fungi, which are heterotrophs,
serve as important decomposers in the environment,
breaking down dead organic material from which they
also derive nutrients. Fungi thus release important
molecules back into the ecosystem.
However, fungi can also be harmful, causing certain
diseases when they infect human tissue. Fungus is at
the root of such diseases as athletes foot and ringworm.