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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • List the characteristics of fungi
  • Describe fungal parasites and pathogens of plants and infections in humans
  • Describe the importance of fungi to the environment
  • Summarize the beneficial role of fungi in food and beverage preparation and in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry
Part a shows a cluster of mushrooms with bell-like domes attached to slender stalks. Part b shows a yellowish-orange fungus that grows in a cluster and is lobe-shaped. Part c is an electron micrograph that shows a long, slender stalk that branches into long chains of spores that look like a string of beads.
The (a) familiar mushroom is only one type of fungus. The brightly colored fruiting bodies of this (b) coral fungus are displayed. This (c) electron micrograph shows the spore-bearing structures of Aspergillus , a type of toxic fungi found mostly in soil and plants. (credit a: modification of work by Chris Wee; credit b: modification of work by Cory Zanker; credit c: modification of work by Janice Haney Carr, Robert Simmons, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

The word fungus comes from the Latin word for mushroom. Indeed, the familiar mushrooms are fungi, but there are many other types of fungi as well ( [link] ). The kingdom Fungi includes an enormous variety of living organisms collectively referred to as Eumycota, or true fungi. While scientists have identified about 100,000 species of fungi, this is only a fraction of the over 1 million species likely present on Earth. Edible mushrooms, yeasts, black mold, and Penicillium notatum (the producer of the antibiotic penicillin) are all members of the kingdom Fungi, which belongs to the domain Eukarya. As eukaryotes, a typical fungal cell contains a true nucleus and many membrane-bound organelles.

Fungi were once considered plant-like organisms; however, DNA comparisons have shown that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants. Fungi are not capable of photosynthesis: They use complex organic compounds as sources of energy and carbon. Some fungal organisms multiply only asexually, whereas others undergo both asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction. Most fungi produce a large number of spores that are disseminated by the wind. Like bacteria, fungi play an essential role in ecosystems, because they are decomposers and participate in the cycling of nutrients by breaking down organic materials into simple molecules.

Fungi often interact with other organisms, forming mutually beneficial or mutualistic associations. Fungi also cause serious infections in plants and animals. For example, Dutch elm disease is a particularly devastating fungal infection that destroys many native species of elm ( Ulmus spp.). The fungus infects the vascular system of the tree. It was accidentally introduced to North America in the 1900s and decimated elm trees across the continent. Dutch elm disease is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi . The elm bark beetle acts as a vector and transmits the disease from tree to tree. Many European and Asiatic elms are less susceptible than American elms.

In humans, fungal infections are generally considered challenging to treat because, unlike bacteria, they do not respond to traditional antibiotic therapy since they are also eukaryotes. These infections may prove deadly for individuals with a compromised immune system.

Questions & Answers

What is biology
Don Reply
Biology z the study of life
GOLDEN
what is asexual reproduction,?
Awoi Reply
A type of reproduction which does not involve the fusion of gametes or a change in the number of chromosomes
Serena
Reproduction without sex... In which form a single organism or cell makes a copy of itself.
Serena
Please explain the concept of mitosis and meiosis
Serena
I guess you could use it for study buddies and brushing up on what you need to
Serena
what is mitosis
Klp
Asexual reproduction?
Serena
why pepsin and trypsin released in active form?
Yacqub
mitosis is the type cell division in which two daughter cells have same no. of chormosomes
syed
Hi
Don
what makes golgi body in plants
Abdulkareem Reply
name the membrane of the plants
Abdulkareem
how can turners syndrome be corrected before birth
Balinda
which animal survive from being preyed just because of being humble, slow, and not aggressive
Balinda
During organs transplantation, the organs cannot be taken from just anybody since the graft would be rejected sooner or later due to
Liter Reply
Non-MHC compatibility on the organ and an attack from the patient's immune system.
Eric
what makes golgi body in plants
Abdulkareem
why trypsin and pepsin released in active form
Yacqub
what is integument system
Joy Reply
Cellular respiration
Lucy Reply
what are the characteristics of living things
Ruth Reply
Movement Respiration Nutrition/Feeding Irritability/Sensitivity Growth Excretion Reproduction Deat/Life span
Hashim
What makes children from the same father and mother sometimes don't look alike?
Hashim
identification of problems
Nana Reply
what happens in the process of raising the human arms
Nana
what is biology
Brandi Reply
first step in scientific method
Brandi
In an investigation the pancreatic duct of a mammal was blocked.It was found that the blood sugar regulation remained normal while food digestion was impaired.Explain
Mac Reply
To begin with, obstruction of pancreatic duct will alter the blood sugar level as the juices responsible for glucose regulation will be rendered inconsequential. This will in turn affect the rate of digestion and absorbtion of digested food substances by the Villus .
Muktar
characteristics of algae
OMIME Reply
Algae are eukaryotic organisms. Algae do not have roots and stems. Algae have chlorophyll and helps in carrying out photosynthesis.
Aditi
Cell wall is the rigid layer enclosed by membranes of plants and prokayortic cell, it maintains the shape of the cell and serve as a protective barrier.
chizoba Reply
ECOLOGY: is a branch of biology that studies the interactions among organisms and their biophysical environment, which includes both biotic and abiotic components. 
chizoba
via nutrient cycles and energy flows. For instance, the energy from the sun is captured by plants through photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a biological process through which plants manufacture their own food with the aid of light from the sun and frc sources (e.g. cabon dioxide and water)
chizoba
What is cell wall
Taiwo Reply
cell wall is the outemost rigid covering of the plants ,that provides protection to the plants.
Aditi
what is integument system
Joy
The integument system is your skin and the largest system in the body.
Eric
what is protoplast?
Liter
The cytoplasm is inside of the cell, minus the nucleus. The protoplasm is the inside of the cell and the nucleus.
Eric
Out line of cell
Salma
what is ecology, ecosystem?
Nkeng Reply
what is digestive system
Lucky Reply
digestive system is the human syman system that icludes esopuges stomach o braking down of food in to useful substance to our body
samrawit

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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts of biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11487/1.9
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