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All Fungi Are Not Same

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The fungal phyla Zygomycota, Ascomycota and Basidiomycota have their beneficial and not so beneficial factors to humans as well as to our food and some even have the ability to reproduce sexually or asexually. Zygomycota reproduce sexually by mating hyphae forming a gamete that fuses the nuclei of the two cells forming a zygospore, which are sexual spores. They then continue, by meiosis, to form the sporangium by which the spores are later released. Zygomycota are saprophytic molds, meaning they absorb their nutrients from the decaying bodies of plants and animals. This is the fungus known to mold bread, specifically called Rhizopus stonlonifer, but on the beneficial side certain species of this fungi is used to ferment some Asian foods and kill insects. This fungus is the cause of infections, particularly zygomycetes, in humans affecting diabetics and immunocomprimised patients called zygomycosis. Ascomycota, this fungus includes molds and yeasts. It is also know as sac fungi, because of the ascus, and reproduces asexually with spores called conidia because they float in the air like dust. They form their ascospores by fusing nuclei of two cells, which are morphologically alike nor not. Ascomycota are heterotrophs and get their nutrients from dead or living organisms even jet fuel or wall paint. There are some forms of Ascomycota that produce asexually like Candida Albicans, causing vaginitis in women and Aspergillus flavus, a contaminant of nuts, which is a known carcinogen. Some other commonly known Ascomycota are black truffles and even some edible mushrooms. The yeast portion of Ascomycota produces Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the yeast used to make bread and to ferment beer. Penicillium is also produced from these fungi. Basidiomycota also known as club fungi produces sexually or asexually, known as teleomorphs. From asexual reproduction a portion of the hyphae breaks off and grows a new mycelium forming a vegetative mycelium, if it finds a suitable structure to mate with it goes into the sexual reproduction called plasmogamy causing the nuclei to fuse together, which produces a fruiting structure that develops mushrooms. This fungus also obtains its nutrients from decaying organic matter. Basidiomycota are very important to our ecosystem because they assist plants, there is that symbiotic relationship, obtain minerals and nutrients from the soil, and they receive in return the sugars that the plants produce through photosynthesis. Basidiomycota can live on land or in water; they are also responsible for decaying wood, which can have a positive effect because some of those decaying enzymes are used in producing paper. It is amazing how useful fungi can be. Prior to being educated on the matter fungi was always know to be such a harmful organism. For example the infamous mushrooms you see growing in moist soil, we were always taught not to touch them because they could be poisonous, which now am aware that they could actually be doing the soil and grass a great benefit by being there.

Tortora, G.J., Funke, B.R., & Case, C.L. (2013). Microbiology An Introduction (11th ed). Boston: Pearson.

Zygomycota. Retrieved from

Encyclopaedia Britannica. Ascomycota. Retrieved from

Encyclopaedia Britannica. Basidiomycota. Retrieved from

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