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Origins of fungi

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Discovery About Evolution Of Fungi Has Implications For Humans -- ScienceDaily

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Bacteria and Fungi

Arrives by Tuesday, Oct 1. Free pickup Tue, Oct 1. Some fungal pigments are toxic to humans. Like plant cells, fungal cells have a thick cell wall. The rigid layers of fungal cell walls contain complex polysaccharides called chitin and glucans. Chitin N-acetyl-D-glucosamine , also found in the exoskeleton of arthropods such as insects, gives structural strength to the cell walls of fungi. The wall protects the cell from desiccation and some predators. Fungi have plasma membranes similar to those of other eukaryotes, except that the structure is stabilized by ergosterol : a steroid molecule that replaces the cholesterol found in animal cell membranes.

Most members of the kingdom Fungi are nonmotile. However, flagella are produced by the spores and gametes in the primitive Phylum Chytridiomycota. The vegetative body of a fungus is a unicellular or multicellular thallus. Unicellular fungi are called yeasts.

Multicellular fungi produce threadlike hyphae singular hypha. Dimorphic fungi can change from the unicellular to multicellular state depending on environmental conditions. Most fungi are multicellular organisms. They display two distinct morphological stages: the vegetative and reproductive. The vegetative stage consists of a tangle of hyphae, whereas the reproductive stage can be more conspicuous. The mass of hyphae is a mycelium Figure. It can grow on a surface, in soil or decaying material, in a liquid, or even on living tissue.

Most fungal hyphae are divided into separate cells by endwalls called septa singular, septum Figure a, c. In most phyla of fungi, tiny holes in the septa allow for the rapid flow of nutrients and small molecules from cell to cell along the hypha.


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They are described as perforated septa. The hyphae in bread molds which belong to the Phylum Zygomycota are not separated by septa. Instead, they are formed by large cells containing many nuclei multinucleate , an arrangement described as coenocytic hyphae Figure b. Fungi thrive in environments that are moist and slightly acidic, and can grow with or without light.

They vary in their oxygen requirement. Most fungi are obligate aerobes , requiring oxygen to survive. Other species, such as members of the Chytridiomycota that reside in the rumen of cattle, are obligate anaerobes , in that they only use anaerobic respiration because oxygen will disrupt their metabolism or kill them. Yeasts are intermediate, being facultative anaerobes.

This means that they grow best in the presence of oxygen using aerobic respiration, but can survive using anaerobic respiration when oxygen is not available. The alcohol produced from yeast fermentation is used in wine and beer production. Like animals, fungi are heterotrophs; they use complex organic compounds as a source of carbon, rather than fix carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as do some bacteria and most plants.

In addition, fungi do not fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Like animals, they must obtain it from their diet.

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However, unlike most animals, which ingest food and then digest it internally in specialized organs, fungi perform these steps in the reverse order; digestion precedes ingestion. First, exoenzymes are transported out of the hyphae, where they process nutrients in the environment.


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Then, the smaller molecules produced by this external digestion are absorbed through the large surface area of the mycelium. As with animal cells, the polysaccharide of storage is glycogen , a branched polysaccaride, rather than amylopectin, a less densely branched polysaccharide, and amylose, a linear polysaccharide, as found in plants.

Fungi are mostly saprobes saprophyte is an equivalent term : organisms that derive nutrients from decaying organic matter.


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  4. They obtain their nutrients from dead or decomposing organic material derived mainly from plants. Fungal exoenzymes are able to break down insoluble compounds, such as the cellulose and lignin of dead wood, into readily absorbable glucose molecules. The carbon, nitrogen, and other elements are thus released into the environment. Because of their varied metabolic pathways, fungi fulfill an important ecological role and are being investigated as potential tools in bioremediation of chemically damaged ecosystems.

    For example, some species of fungi can be used to break down diesel oil and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons PAHs.

    Evolution of fungi

    Other species take up heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead. Some fungi are parasitic, infecting either plants or animals. In environments poor in nitrogen, some fungi resort to predation of nematodes small non-segmented roundworms. In fact, species of Arthrobotrys fungi have a number of mechanisms to trap nematodes: One mechanism involves constricting rings within the network of hyphae. The rings swell when they touch the nematode, gripping it in a tight hold.

    The fungus then penetrates the tissue of the worm by extending specialized hyphae called haustoria. Perfect fungi reproduce both sexually and asexually, while the so-called imperfect fungi reproduce only asexually by mitosis. In both sexual and asexual reproduction, fungi produce spores that disperse from the parent organism by either floating on the wind or hitching a ride on an animal. Fungal spores are smaller and lighter than plant seeds.

    For example, the giant puffball mushroom bursts open and releases trillions of spores in a massive cloud of what looks like finely particulate dust. The huge number of spores released increases the likelihood of landing in an environment that will support growth Figure. Asexual Reproduction Fungi reproduce asexually by fragmentation, budding , or producing spores. Fragments of hyphae can grow new colonies. Fungal fossils do not become common and uncontroversial until the early Devonian — Some time after the Permian-Triassic extinction event From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    The origin and diversification of fungi through geologic time. Fungi portal. New Phytologist. Bibcode : Sci Retrieved Assembling the tree of life. Oxford Oxfordshire : Oxford University Press. Bibcode : Natur. BMC Evolutionary Biology.

    Evolution of fungi

    Systematic Biology. The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May