Characteristics of Fungi

  1. Fungi are eukaryotic organisms means they have true nucleus which are enclosed in membranes.
  2. They are non-vascular organisms. They do not have vascular system. Xylem and Phloem are absent.
  3. Fungi have cell walls (plants also have cell walls, but animals have no cell walls).
  4. There is no embryonic stage for fungi.
    Characteristics of Fungi
  5. They reproduce by means of spores. There are sexual and asexual spores. Sexual spores are Oospores, Zygospores, Ascospores, Basidiospores, etc. and Asexual spores are Sporangiospores, Aplanospores, Zoospores, Conidia, etc.
  6. Depending on the species and conditions both sexual and asexual spores may be produced.
  7. They are typically non-motile.
  8. Fungi exhibit the phenomenon of alteration of generation. They have both haploid and diploid stage.
  9. Fungi are achlorophyllous, which means they lack the chlorophyll pigments present in the chloroplasts in plant cells and which are necessary for photosynthesis.
  10. The vegetative body of the fungi may be unicellular or composed of microscopic threads called hyphae.
  11. Hyphae can grow and form a network called a mycelium.
  12. Yeasts are unicellular fungi that do not produce hyphae.
  13. The structure of cell wall is similar to plants but chemically the fungi cell wall are composed of chitin (C8H13O5N)n.
    Chitin StructureFigure: Structure of Chitin
  14. The cell membrane of a fungus has a unique sterol and ergosterol.
  15. Fungi are heterotrophic organisms. They obtains its food and energy from organic substances, plant and animal matters.
  16. Fungi grow best in acidic environment (tolerate acidic pH).
  17. Fungi digest the food first and then ingest the food, to accomplish this the fungi produce exoenzymes like Hydrolases, Lyases, Oxidoreductase, Transferase, etc.
  18. Fungi store their food as starch.
  19. Biosynthesis of chitin occurs in fungi.
  20. Many of the fungi have a small nuclei with repetitive DNA.
  21. During mitosis the nuclear envelope is not dissolved.
  22. Nutrition in fungi – they are saprophytes (gets energy from dead and decaying matters), or parasites (lives in a host, attack and kill) or symbionts (mutually beneficial).
  23. Optimum temperature of growth for most saprophytic fungi is 20-30°C while (30-37)°C for parasitic fungi.
  24. Growth rate of fungi is slower than that of bacteria.
  25. Reproduction in fungi is both by sexual and asexual means.
  26. Sexual state is referred to as teleomorph (fruiting body), asexual state is referred to as anamorph (mold like).
  27. Reproduction occurs by both asexual (Axamorph) and sexual (Teliomorph) mode:Asexual methods: fragmentation, fsomatic budding, fission, asexual spore formation
    Sexual methods: gametic copulation, gamate-gametangium opulation, gametangium copulation, somatic copulation and Spermatization.
  28. Pheromone is a chemical substance produced by fungi, which leads to the sexual reproduction between male and female fungi cells.
  29. Some fungi are macroscopic and can be seen by naked eyes. Mold or mushrooms are examples of macroscopic form of fungi.
  30. In 1991, a landmark paper estimated that there are 1.5 million fungi on the Earth.
  31. Only about 300 species of fungi are infectious to human.
  32. Examples: Candida albicans, Aspergillus, Blastomyces, Coccidioides, Cryptococcus neoformans, Histoplasma, Pneumocystis jirovecii, etc.

About Author

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Sagar Aryal

Sagar Aryal is a microbiologist and a scientific blogger. He is doing his Ph.D. at the Central Department of Microbiology, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He was awarded the DAAD Research Grant to conduct part of his Ph.D. research work for two years (2019-2021) at Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS), Saarbrucken, Germany. Sagar is interested in research on actinobacteria, myxobacteria, and natural products. He is the Research Head of the Department of Natural Products, Kathmandu Research Institute for Biological Sciences (KRIBS), Lalitpur, Nepal. Sagar has more than ten years of experience in blogging, content writing, and SEO. Sagar was awarded the SfAM Communications Award 2015: Professional Communicator Category from the Society for Applied Microbiology (Now: Applied Microbiology International), Cambridge, United Kingdom (UK). Sagar is also the ASM Young Ambassador to Nepal for the American Society for Microbiology since 2023 onwards.

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