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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

Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
if virus is killing to make ARTIFICIAL DNA OF GRAPHENE FOR KILLED THE VIRUS .THIS IS OUR ASSUMPTION
Anam
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Anam
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
hi
Loga
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
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Source:  OpenStax, Natural history supplemental. OpenStax CNX. Aug 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11695/1.1
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