Introduction to Fungi
Introduction to Fungi Resources
Fungi are one of the strangest of life's five kingdoms. They are
ubiquitous and very important for science and commerce, as can
be seen in many of the links below. Fungi may be more closely related to
animals than plants. They are a taxonomical nightmare, however, because
of their inherent variability. Along with this variability, which often
entails multiple alleles for a single locus, other characteristics which
make fungi special are:
- They are eukaryotic, distinguishable from the prokaryotic
actinomycetes by larger filaments (hyphae).
- Most have cell walls composed of chitin, less tightly bound than in
the exoskeletons of insects.
- They utilize ergosterol.
- They are heterotrophic, taking in nutrients by absorbtion.
- They are often coenocytic, or multi-nucleate within an open system.
Anastomosis allows hyphae to join and freely distribute DNA.
- They generally produce spores. Except for the slime molds, which are
"mycological", if not true fungi, most fungi produce spores either
sexually, asexually, or both ways.
Fungi Servers and Databases
Complete Saccharomyces cerevisiae Sequence
International Mycological Institute
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi, usually associated with
basidiomycetes (which make exogenous, sexually produced; basidiospores), like Agaricus spp.,
and ascomycetes (endogenous, sexually produced; ascospores), like
Information on Mushrooms
Molds, Mildews, Rusts and Chytrids
While many fungi are obligate parasites of plants, forming
mycorrhizal associations which are facultative, some are destructive
endo-parasites. Chytrids are zoosporic fungi which often parasitize the
rumens of grazing mammals. The heterotrophic nature of the fungi is a
reason for their growth on or in most other life forms, including other
Zoosporic Fungi Online
Yeasts are single-celled fungi, a few species of which may commonly
be found living in recesses of the human body. They are an invaluable
resource in biological research and medicine, and important ingredients in baking and alcoholic beverage
Fission Yeast Handbook
Lichens are a parasitic/symbiotic association of fungi and algae or
cyanobacteria. They can be found in the harshest of environments, and
can absorb nutrients from solid rock.
Minnesota Herbarium Specimen Type Catalogue
The field of Medical Mycology is broadly concerned with the fungi
which parasitize humans. While many of these grow on the skin, and are
often minor irritants, certain species can easily invade eye, lung, brain
or other tissues, with possibly fatal consequences.
Medical Mycology Research