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Biology LibreTexts

8.1: Overview of Fungi

Skills to Develop

  1. Name 3 groups of fungi.
  2. Define mycosis.

Mycology is the study of fungi. Fungi include yeasts, molds, and fleshy fungi. They:

  1. are eukaryotic;
  2. have a rigid cell wall;
  3. are chemoheterotrophs (organisms that require organic compounds for both carbon and energy sources);
  4. obtain their nutrients by absorption;
  5. obtain nutrients as saprophytes, organisms that live off of decaying matter, or as parasites, organisms that live off of living matter.

Of the over 100,000 species of fungi, only about 100 species are pathogenic for animals. They play a major role in the recycling of nutrients by their ability to cause decay and are used by industry to produce a variety of useful products. However, they also cause many undesirable economic effects such as the spoilage of fruits, grains, and vegetables, as well as the destruction of unpreserved wood and leather products. We will be concerned mainly with the yeasts and molds, especially those causing mycoses (fungal infections).

Summary

Fungi include yeasts, molds, and fleshy fungi. Fungi are are eukaryotic organisms and possess a cell wall. Most fungi are saprophytes, organisms that live off of decaying matter; a few are parasites, organisms that live off of living matter. A fungal infection is called a mycosis.

Contributors

  • Dr. Gary Kaiser (COMMUNITY COLLEGE OF BALTIMORE COUNTY, CATONSVILLE CAMPUS)