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7.3.3. Fungi

Fungi kingdom

The fungi kingdom or fungi kingdom is made up of eukaryotic organisms  that can be unicellular, such as yeastsor multicellularsuch as molds and mushroomsThey are characterized by having a cell wall of chitin (not of cellulose like plants), and their cells are not differentiated into true tissues, but instead group together to form filaments called hyphae, the whole of which is called mycelium.

Although they feed by absorption, like plants, they are heterotrophsThey do not have chlorophyll nor do they photosynthesize.

Vital functions of fungi

Function of nutrition in fungi

Fungi are heterotrophsThat is, they need organic matter already made by other organisms. Depending on how they get their food, these types of fungi are distinguished:

  • Saprophytes or decomposers. They are fungi that live on the remains of dead animals or plants or on their excrement. Its performance is essential in the formation of humus. They are responsible for recycling dead organic matter, transforming it into inorganic matter that can be used again by plants.

Video: Parasitic fungus of an ant.

  • ParasitesThey get their food, organic matter, from other living beings that cause diseases called mycoses, such as ringworm and athlete's foot.
  • SymbioticsThese are fungi that live in association with other living beings (plantsoranimals) for mutual benefit. For example,lichens,formed by the association of an algae and a fungus. Thefungusis responsible for absorbing and retaining water and mineral salts that it gives to the algae. Thealga,in turn, performs photosynthesis and provides organic matter to the fungus.

Lichens are very important in the colonization of rocks, which they slowly transform into soil on which vegetation and the rest of the ecosystem can later develop. They are sensitive to contamination and are therefore used as biological indicators of contamination.

Interactive activity: Lichens.

Interactive activity: Lichens.

Enlargement: Main species of lichens.

Relationship function in fungi

Fungi live fixed to the substrate on which they develop (soil, fruits, plants, etc.). Although they do not have structures for locomotion, such as cilia or flagella, and cannot move, their filaments can grow rapidly to respond to needs in the environment, such as for food.

Reproductive function in fungi

Fungi reproduce by sporesA reproductive structure stands out, the mushrooms.

Types of mushrooms

In the fungi kingdom, very varied organisms are grouped, such as:

Yeasts (unicellular fungi)

Yeasts are unicellular fungi with oval cells that reproduce by budding. They usually live associated with fruits or parts of vegetables rich in sugars, which they ferment (partially oxidize) to obtain energy. As a result of this fermentation, products of interest to humans are obtained, such as the manufacture of bread, or alcoholic beverages, such as wine, beer, cider, etc.

Molds (multicellular fungi)

Molds are multicellular fungi formed by filaments or hyphae. They reproduce by spores. They live on wood and other organic remains, bread, fruit, etc., feeding on their organic matter, decomposing it and making it possible to recycle the matter.

Mushrooms (multicellular fungi)

Some fungi are mushroom producers. The mushroom is only the reproductive apparatus of the fungus, formed by hyphae that are the ones that produce the sporesThe mushroom comes out but the mycelium remains buried.

Estructura de una amanita.

By Arturo D. Castillo (Zoram.hakaan) [CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Interactive activity: Mushrooms.

Crossword Puzzle: Parts of Fungi.

Webquest: Fungal Kingdom.

Interactive activity: I spy fungi game.

Mushroom utilities

Mushrooms have many uses:

  • Food. In addition to mushrooms, yeasts are involved in the preparation of foods such as bread, yogurt, wine, etc.
  • Production of antibiotics.