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Fungi have many commercial applications. The food industry uses yeasts in baking, brewing, and wine making. Many industrial compounds are byproducts of fungal fermentation. Fungi are the source of many commercial enzymes and antibiotics.

Cell structure and function

Fungi are eukaryotes and as such have a complex cellular organization. As eukaryotes, fungal cells contain a membrane-bound nucleus. A few types of fungi have structures comparable to the plasmids (loops of DNA) seen in bacteria. Fungal cells also contain mitochondria and a complex system of internal membranes, including the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus.

Fungal cells do not have chloroplasts. Although the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll is absent, many fungi display bright colors, ranging from red to green to black. The poisonous Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) is recognizable by its bright red cap with white patches ( [link] ). Pigments in fungi are associated with the cell wall and play a protective role against ultraviolet radiation. Some pigments are toxic.

The photo shows two large mushrooms, each with a wide white base and a bright red cap. The caps are dotted with small white protrusions.
The poisonous Amanita muscaria is native to the temperate and boreal regions of North America. (credit: Christine Majul)

Like plant cells, fungal cells are surrounded by a thick cell wall; however, the rigid layers contain the complex polysaccharides chitin and glucan and not cellulose that is used by plants. Chitin, also found in the exoskeleton of insects, gives structural strength to the cell walls of fungi. The cell wall protects the cell from desiccation and predators. Fungi have plasma membranes similar to other eukaryotes, except that the structure is stabilized by ergosterol, a steroid molecule that functions like the cholesterol found in animal cell membranes. Most members of the kingdom Fungi are nonmotile. Flagella are produced only by the gametes in the primitive division Chytridiomycota.

Growth and reproduction

The vegetative body of a fungus is called a thallus    and can be unicellular or multicellular. Some fungi are dimorphic because they can go from being unicellular to multicellular depending on environmental conditions. Unicellular fungi are generally referred to as yeasts . Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) and Candida species (the agents of thrush, a common fungal infection) are examples of unicellular fungi.

Most fungi are multicellular organisms. They display two distinct morphological stages: vegetative and reproductive. The vegetative stage is characterized by a tangle of slender thread-like structures called hyphae (singular, hypha    ), whereas the reproductive stage can be more conspicuous. A mass of hyphae is called a mycelium    ( [link] ). It can grow on a surface, in soil or decaying material, in a liquid, or even in or on living tissue. Although individual hypha must be observed under a microscope, the mycelium of a fungus can be very large with some species truly being “the fungus humongous.” The giant Armillaria ostoyae (honey mushroom) is considered the largest organism on Earth, spreading across over 2,000 acres of underground soil in eastern Oregon; it is estimated to be at least 2,400 years old.

Questions & Answers

what is osmosis
Aon Reply
movement of water molecule from higher to lower concentration through a semipereable membrene.
Dr
what of in the case of solute
Aon
osmosis is the movement of molecules from higher concentration region to lower concentration region through semi-permeable membrane.
Broad
in case of solute means that water moves from the region with lower solutes to the region with higher solute. so it is vice versa to water.
Broad
what are the hydrophilic and hydrophobic region of the plasma membrane?
Samuel Reply
hydrophilic in other word it called water loving and hydrophobic region other word is region that does not contact with water in the plasma membrane.
Broad
recognizing living things
Emmanuel Reply
Species A has 12 pairs of chromosomes and Species B has 11 pairs of chromosomes. Explain what occurs during mitosis and during meiosis in the hybrid that allows normal development and growth from zygote to adult, but causes the adults to be sterile.
Christina Reply
what is the origin of angiosperms?
Broad
unknown group of gymnosperms of triassic period.
Aditi
ouky but what about the concept of monophyletic and polyphyletic? where angiosperms is between that two concept?
Broad
Why does water move through a membrane?
Christina Reply
How many bones are in the human skeleton
Treasure Reply
203
Oyeleke
procce of digestion of proteins a long human alimentarycanal
Carson Reply
what are the properties of lipids?
Isiah Reply
They are: Fatty acids, fats, oils, waxes, phospholipid, glycolipids, steroids and some vitamins
Rachel
explain why a fresh water fish excrete ammonia
Leonard Reply
plz answer my question
Leonard
sorry i meant it has a nucleous unlike plant cells lol
Lailah
Ammonia is the end product of protein catabolism and is stored in the body of the fish in high concentrations relative to basal excretion rates. Ammonia, if allowed to accumulate, is toxic and is converted to less toxic compounds or excreted
Rachel
What are eukaryotic cells?
Nwosueke Reply
cell with no nucleous so not a plant cell
Lailah
eukaryotic cells are membrane bound organelles that have a membrane bound nucleus
ojeen
where does the cell get energy for active transport processes?
A'Kaysion Reply
IDK maybe glucose
Lailah
what is synapsis
Adepoju Reply
ability of homology genome to pair
Broad
how many turns are required to make a molecule of sucrose in Calvin cycle
Amina Reply
why Calvin cycle occurs in stroma
Amina
why do humans enhale oxygen and exhale carbondioxide?
Maryam Reply
why do humans enhale oxygen and exhale carbondioxide? For the purpose of breaking down the food
dil
what is allele
uzoka Reply

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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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