Structure of fungi - Summary and photos

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Fungi are organisms that belong to the Fungi kingdom. They were considered for a long time as plants because they are organisms without movement, but they are more related to us animals, since they are heterotrophs: do not synthesize their own energyrather, they get it from outside sources. The structure of mushrooms is more complex than that of the mushrooms that we usually eat or the red mushrooms that we see in the forest.

There are different types of fungi that can be divided into two large groups: filamentous and yeast. The former are multicellular organisms that form filaments made up of cells. In contrast, yeast are unicellular.

Keep reading this Green Ecologist article where we explain in detail what is the structure of fungi and how they vary between different types of groups.

Fruiting body

The fruiting body, reproductive body or sporocarp is the part of the fungus with reproductive functions and is the sexual phase of filamentous fungi. Here, spore-producing structures will be formed, particular to each type of fungus. There are reproductive bodies that can emerge on the ground, called epigea, while there are also hypogea, which are those that grow under it. This fruiting body is what we know as a fungus, but it is only part of the constitution of fungi.

We can distinguish the following parts of the fruiting body:

Universal veil

When the filamentous fungus begins to grow, it does so first in a button, which is enclosed within a universal veil. As the fungus increases in size, this veil becomes tear to release developed content, leaving the crown visible. There comes the point where the fungus fully grows, leaving the veil completely freed from the fungus. Traces of the veil may remain on the crown, as is the case with the characteristic Fly agaric red with small white specks, which are fragments of veil.


It is the upper part that falls on the mushroom. Is also called hat. It usually has a different color and texture from the other parts of the fungus. This variety also occurs in different species of fungus, making each one characteristic. It is covered by a thin cuticle and can sometimes present "scales".


Sheets, folds, sponges, gels or tubes are housed under the crown, with a spore-producing and storing function. By creating compartments, larger numbers of spores can be accommodated. Is the fertile zone of the fungus. The distribution and coloration of these compartments is essential for species identification. For example, the sheets can be arranged radially, partial, or even branched. These differences are what help to identify when there are two very similar fungi.

If you want to know more about What are spores, we recommend that you take a look at this other article.


Also known as a stipe, it is the support of the upper part of the fruiting body, in addition to joining it with the other parts of the fungus. It helps rise off the ground so that its spores can be better dispersed. It can have various shapes, such as claviform, filiform, cylindrical, conical, or even spongy and hollow.


It forms in the middle of the stipe, as a sign of growth of the fungus. It is revealed when the partial veil is lost, which is the layer that covers the hymenium. May or may not show up.

Come back

At the base of the stipe, the universal veil can remain as a residual, forming a cup around the crown. This part is also important for identification, as it is usually present in poisonous mushrooms.

Stipe base

It is the area that holds the stipe to the ground and that connects with the vegetative body, which we will see in the next section. It is made up of disordered hyphae that can be attached to wood, pine cones, roots, or other media to which they are associated.

Vegetative body

This is the other type of structure of filamentous fungi and carries out the functions of its vegetative phase. It does not have playback functions and is therefore very simple. It does not have a defined color or shape, but it does contain clear and internal structures that help it to carry out its development:


They are the filaments that make up the vegetative body, made up of cells. They are threads and grow apically at the tip of the hyphae. Your cell wall is composed of chitin, a type of carbohydrate.


They are the structures that divide the hyphae. Despite these septa, cells can communicate with each other through pores in these blocks. So they can do genetic recombination and can reproduce. May to be present or not.


It is the set of hyphae, which unite without any order in a filamentous tangle. There are two types of mycelia:

  • The haploid primary mycelium: You need another haploid primary mycelium for a diploid secondary mycelium to form.
  • Diploid secondary mycelium: This mycelium is essential for ecosystems, as it helps to degrade waste organic matter. Once it matures, it can give way to the formation of the fruiting body.

Spherical cells

These cells make up yeast fungi. Are single-celled organisms, so these cells are its only structure. They are oval and spherical in shape, with a size ranging from 6 to 30 microns. They can join together to form macroscopic colonies, creamy in consistency similar to bacterial colonies. They do not form specialized tissues or clusters as the fungi of the previous group do.

In this post by Green Ecologist you can read more about the Classification of fungi.

If you want to read more articles similar to Structure of fungi, we recommend that you enter our Biology category.

  • Beatty, R., Beer, A. and Deeming, C. (2010). The Book of Nature. Great Britain: Dorling Kindersley
  • Faculty of Chemistry UNAM (s.f.) Mushrooms (fungi). Available at:
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