The kingdom of fungi includes one of the most important organisms, in terms of their ecological and economical value. Check out different types of fungi.
All the living beings are organized into broad categories called kingdoms. Categorizing makes the study about so many different organisms simple. For many years, fungi was placed in the plant kingdom and studied under the same light for a long time. But then it was disputed because of the absence of vascular tissues that are responsible for the growth of stems, leaves and roots. It was then placed in the animal kingdom. That, too, did not fit the fungi properly until they were given a kingdom of their own and categorized separately. This mysterious organism is only partly seen with the naked eyes; only the fruit part is seen, rest of the body is made up of tiny filaments and these filaments are generally hidden in food material or wood or soil. We may never be able to see fungi if it did not grow a fruit at all. Fungi can reproduce both sexually and asexually. There are over million species of fungi, with over two hundred thousand species already identified all over the world. These different species have been identified by the arrangement and spores of the fruiting body. Fruiting bodies generate millions of spores. For example, a single fruiting body of mushroom may produce 10,000 million spores and more. Some fungi have hundreds of gills. The spores grow all over these gills, called lamellae. Some fungi have pores in the fruiting body and the spores develop inside the pores, which increases the surface area. This surface area of the fruiting body comes handy in identifying different kinds of fungi.
Different Types of Fungi
Gill Fungi: This type includes the very famous, mushroom. Mostly they have a stem and an umbrella type of cap on the top of it. The lamellae are on the underside of the cap. The ‘Destroying Angel’ or Amanita Verna is a deadly poisonous fungus, under this category. The gilled mushrooms are most famous mushrooms in the world, for their easy availability and taste.
Boletes: These fungi also have a stem and a cap on the top of it. But, like gill fungi, boletes do not have lamellae on the undersurface of the cap; instead it has thousands of tubes arranged on the side of the cape, perpendicularly. As a result, the cap looks like it has got a large number of little holes or tubes.
Polypores: Polypores have tough and wood-like bodies. Some of these fungi grow on the soil, but most of them attach themselves to rotten trees and plants. These fungi are also called bracket fungi; it looks like a shelf growing out on the side of a tree. The pores are grown on the underside of the cap with lots of spores. It can grow large in size and have rings on it. Its age can be identified through these rings.
Stinkhorns: It grows out of an egg like structure and looks extraordinary. It has a bell-shaped head on the top of a stalk. The head is slimy and foul-smelling, full of spores. The smell and slime attracts the flies and these flies later on become the spores’ disperser.
Earth Balls and Earth Stars: The spores, in this kind of fungi, are inside a ball like structure. This ball can either be on the ground level or leveled up with a stalk. The spores in the center are hard in the beginning, but later turn into a powdery accumulation. The earth stars have petals forming a star shaped structure, coming out of its outer space. It exposes the inner ball-like structure, containing pores.
Jelly Fungi: These are soft, jelly-like structures found growing like blobs, on trees or soil. It shrinks when it is dried, but then with availability of moisture again, it regains its consistency. This type of fungi commonly grows in the fall or summer time. Jelly fungi are usually orange, white, pink, rose, brown or black in color. They can look like corals because of their indefinite shapes.
Cup Fungi: This type of fungi belongs to the Ascomycetes, which makes these fungi ‘spore-shooters’. This has cup shaped structure with a spore sac on its surface. Some cup fungi like ‘monilinia’ are pathogens. Some of these cup fungi are saprobes, found on decaying plants, twigs or cow-dung, etc. In cup fungi like helvella and peziza, spores are shot out like tiny explosions. Pyronema and Anthracobia are also called the fire fungi, because they grow on burned wood and steamed soil.
Main Divisions Of Fungi
Chytridiomycota: It is the division of fungi which contains unreleased pores. These are the most primitive form of fungi. This fungi is responsible of killing amphibians through the disease called chytridiomycosis. It was first discovered in Australia and Panama. This fungi has been the principle cause of decline in the population of amphibian worldwide.
Zygomycota: This is the division of fungi that attacks the food products. This fungi forms zygospore during sexual reproduction and many of these are also known as plant root symbionts. It can go through both sexual and asexual reproduction. In its asexual reproduction, spores are formed by separation and thickening of hyphal cells. In sexual reproduction, these fungi either mate through individual species. When hyphae from opposite mating types are met with, progametangia is produced. These structures are dense and multinucleate. Walls of the cell separate from this structure and transform into gametangia. Gametangia is attached to the mating hyphae with the help of remaining spensors. Then the process of plasmogamy takes place, which helps in forming a zygote and later, karyogamy happens within this zygote. This zygote thickens to form zygospore.
Glomeromycota: This is the division of fungi, recognized as one of the seven phyla of kingdom of fungi. This type of fungi depends on the symbiotic relationship with the land plants and deduces carbon and energy from it but some of the species can also lead independent existence. These fungi can also be found in the salt-marshes and form an association with the epiphytic plants. Glameromycota undergoes asexual reproduction through balastic development of hyphal tip, producing spores.
Ascomycota: This division of fungi includes diverse fungi from unicellular yeasts to complex cup fungi. There are atleast 30,000 species of Ascomycota. Ascomycota includes a reproductive structure called the ascus. Many of these causes tree diseases like dutch elm disease, apple blights, etc. Some of the yeasts from this group are used in the production of breads and alcoholic beverages. The medicine penicillin is produced from the fungi from this group called the Penacillium mold. It can undergo both sexual and asexual reproduction.
Basidiomycota: This division includes some of the most familiar fungi like mushrooms, puffballs, shelf fungi, plant rusts and smuts, etc. This division contains more than 15,000 species and has a peculiar feature of a club-shaped reproductive organ called basidium. Apart from basidium, another peculiar feature to identify Basidiomycota is the degree with which individual cells separate in it. This division has more separated hyphae than Zygomycota, which lets the cutoplasm to flow freely between the cells. This divison undergoes both asexual and sexual reproduction.
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