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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

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
in a comparison of the stages of meiosis to the stage of mitosis, which stages are unique to meiosis and which stages have the same event in botg meiosis and mitosis
Leah Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts in biology (biology 1060 tri-c). OpenStax CNX. Jan 15, 2014 Download for free at https://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11617/1.1
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