Fungus: Definition, Characteristics, Types and Its Economic Roles
Fungi (singular fungus) are the eukaryotic organisms that belong to the Kingdom Fungi. They have no chlorophyll pigments and vascular tissues. The body consists of a single cell to branched filamentous hyphae that often produce specialized fruiting bodies. The special characteristic of fungi is that they grow rapidly and die soon. In nature, there are over a million species of fungi, but only 10% of known fungi species are found in the scientific literature. There are over 300 species of fungi that are infectious to humans. Each year 85 billion tons of CO2 released in air through decomposing plants done by fungi. They are widely distributed organisms with excellent medical and environmental value.
Most of the fungi freely live in soil or water, but many form symbiotic or parasitic relationships with animals and plants. When they make a symbiotic relationship with the roots of plants, then it is known as mycorrhizal fungi. The study of fungi in a discipline of botany is called Mycology. Edible mushrooms, yeasts, rusts, smuts, mildews, black mold, toadstools, and the Penicillium notatum, which produce the antibiotic drug, penicillin, all belong to the domain Eukaryota under the kingdom Fungi.
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Characteristic Features of Fungi
Types of Fungi
Based on their structure, commonly, the following three types of fungi are seen within the fungi kingdom.
Generally, mold species are grouped into the following three types:
1.Allergenic: Aspergillus, Cladosporium, and some Penicillium species produce airborne spores that can act as allergens. Other common molds that can also act as allergens include Helminthosporium, Mucor, Epicoccum, Rhizopus, Fusarium, and Pullularia, etc.
2.Pathogenic: Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillus flavus are the leading cause of invasive aspergillosis. It can also cause chronic pulmonary infections. Other pathogenic species, Histoplasma capsulatum causes infectious disease to human, which is known as histoplasmosis.
3.Toxigenic: Some mold species are toxic to humans and other animals that come in contact with them. Some toxigenic molds are Fusarium solani, Fusarium oxysporum, Fusarium moniliforme, Penicillium brevicompactum, Penicillium chrysogenum, Penicillium citrinum, Penicillium corylophilum, Penicillium cyclopium, Penicillium expansum. Penicillium fellutanum, Penicillium spinulosum, Penicillium viridicatum, Aspergillus versicolor, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavusand and Stachybotrys chartarum.
The term "mushroom" is derived from the French word ‘mousseron’ meaning moss. It belongs to the order Agaricales of Phylum Basidiomycota. There are different types of mushroom, among them, some are edible, some may be poisonous, or unpalatable. Mushroom is also known as toadstool, which grows on soil and trees. They have fleshy, spore-bearing, and umbrella-shaped fruiting bodies. On the planet, mushrooms are one of the most health-promoting superfoods which have more than 100 different beneficial effects on health. It is used for improving overall health by preventing and treating serious health conditions.
Mushrooms offer commercial, aesthetic, and ecological values. Edible mushroom varieties are tasty, and they supply vitamin B and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, iron, and selenium with low calories. Some mushrooms show diverse forms and colors and exhibit wondrous nature for humans.
Mushrooms make an important source of nutrition and energy in terrestrial food chains because many animals like rodents and birds also eat mushrooms. Besides these, mushrooms also contain toxic substances, which can cause human sickness or even death. The most deadly mushrooms are the angel and the death cap, which belong to the genus Amanita.
Economic Roles of Fungi
Beneficial Roles of Fungi
Fungi show the following both ecological and economic roles:
Harmful Roles of Fungi
Fungi are the eukaryotic organisms that have a great role in our economy. They have both beneficial and harmful effects in our daily life. They take part in the decomposing of organic material to form the humus. They also involve in the recycling process and release nutritional elements in the soils, which are essential for the growth of plants. Besides these, many fungi are used as a research tool in the study of fundamental biological processes.