Classification of fungi - Characteristics and types

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At Ecologista Verde we want to teach you a little more about the world around you every day. For this reason, as fungi are one of the least popularly known kingdoms, compared to that of animals and plants, we are going to present in a simple way what is the classification of the Fungi Kingdom so that you increase your knowledge and discover the peculiarities of each of the fungi phyla, as well as other aspects such as what are the main characteristics of fungi and also how fungi reproduce.

Join us in this article about the classification of fungi to learn the importance of fungi within different ecosystems so that, thus, values even more to these very particular forms of life.

Classification of the kingdom of fungi or Fungi

Inside of the fungi kingdomWe find what we generally call fungi, but which are actually various types of living and eukaryotic organisms, such as yeasts, molds and mushrooms. And although in general when we talk about them we can make the mistake of confusing mushrooms with fungi, it is important to know that there is a clear difference: the fungus is underground while the mushroom is the visible part of the fungus. In addition, generally, mushrooms they are edible, hence they are also called edible mushrooms. Therefore, we will find microscopic fungi under the surface that, far from fruiting, remain underground to enrich the soil or can become an inconvenience for other living beings.

In the same way, we differentiate yeasts and molds from fungi and mushrooms, although they fulfill similar functions as degradation agents of other organic and inorganic compounds. In the case of yeasts We are talking about unicellular beings with asexual reproduction and that are used in fermentation processes in the food industry. On the other hand, molds They are multicellular organisms that can also be used to produce drugs. We recommend you learn more about the topic of Yeasts: what they are, types and examples by reading this other post.

Characteristics of the mushroom kingdom

With these clear differences between the different organisms that make up the kingdom of fungi, we are now going to talk about their main characteristics.

  • The mushrooms are eukaryotic beings, therefore, they are closer, evolutionarily speaking, to the kingdom of animals than to that of plants. However, fungi also do not have senses or a locomotor system, so they cannot interact so directly with the world around them. Here you can read about the Difference between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell.
  • They do not have autotrophic nutrition, as with plants. Instead the fungi perform a heterotrophic nutrition which is based on the absorption of food. Learn more about heterotrophic organisms here: what they are, characteristics and examples.
  • The cellular composition of fungi has developed a cell wall that, instead of being composed of cellulose, as in plants, is made up of chitin. Chitin It is a substance used in many animals for the creation of protective covers. An example of the presence of chitin is found in the shells of animals.
  • The kingdom of fungi is so vast that we can speak of microscopic or unicellular fungi and macroscopic or multicellular fungi. These can be found on the land surface, underwater, or as parasites of plants and animals. In fact, we can also find them in a symbiotic association with algae or plants to give rise to what is known as lichens. Learn more about what lichens are and their types here.
  • The main function of fungi is to break down organic matter. Although they can also serve as food for numerous animal species where, obviously, humans are also included.

Find out much more about the Fungi Kingdom: what it is, characteristics, classification and examples by reading this other Green Ecologist article.

Phylum Chytridiomycota

The fungi that belong to this phylum, also known as chytrid, are the more primitive coming to appear until more than 500 million years ago. For the most part, chytrids are mainly fungi aquatic and unicellular. In addition, their reproduction is asexual, resulting in zoospores or mobile spores.

Image: Wikipedia

Phylum Zygomycota

Within this phylum we find more than 1,060 species of zygomycete mushrooms, as well as various molds that grow on foods such as vegetables, fruits, or breads. Hence, the vast majority live on the decomposition of organic matter.

However, we can also find zygomycete fungi as parasites of some insects. These fungi reproduce asexually creating sporangiospores, although they can also reproduce sexually if they are in unfavorable conditions. Furthermore, some fungi of this phylum are able to survive in an environment without oxygen.

Ascomycota Blade

The ascomycetes are those fungi that are characterized by having a kind of bag or sac where the haploid ascospores resulting from their sexual reproduction are stored, although they also reproduce by fission.

Also, this is the most numerous edge of the Fungi kingdom with more than 64,000 species. Also found within this phylum are some yeasts used for the production of fermented products, such as beer, wine or sake. In the same way, although to a lesser extent, there are also parasitic fungi within this phylum that can cause serious lung diseases.

Phylum Basidiomycota

These fungi are generally found as plant and insect parasites. In addition, they are composed of hyphae and have two types of mycelium: the primary mycelium made up of uninucleated cells and the secondary mycelium made up of dikaryotic cells.

Within this edge are the platform mushrooms, which are those that grow and develop in the bark of trees, the so-called imperfect mushrooms o Deuteromycota and lichens, those fungi that arise from symbiosis with an alga or plant.

How fungi are classified according to their reproduction

Fungi can have asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction. In the case of asexually reproducing fungi, they use their haploid hyphae to carry out mitosis that gives rise to spores called conidia, also known as conidiospores. However, when two haploid hyphae result in diploid hyphae and thus basidian or ascus-type spores are created, we speak of sexual reproduction. Learn more about What are spores with this post.

Therefore, all fungi, except the Deuteromycota or imperfect ones, reproduce sexually. Only the lower aquatic fungi or phycomycetes (which are part of the Deuteromycota) reproduce asexually. To finish understanding more about the subject, we recommend you read this other article about Asexual Reproduction: what it is, types and examples.

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

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