BioTech FYI Center - Resources

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 Candida albicans Information Index of Fungi, 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 Morchella spp.. Information on Mushrooms Tom Volk's Fungi Page

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 fungi. The Arthur Herbarium Zoosporic Fungi Online Airborne Fungal Spores


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 production.

Yeast Functional Catalogue

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.

The Lichens

University of Minnesota Herbarium Specimen Type Catalogue

Medical Mycology

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 Center Index

Introduction to Fungi