Fungi | Definition, Characteristics & Types

Fungi�Definition Biology

They are eukaryotic multicellular organisms. They are Heterotrophs. Heterotrophs are those organisms which cannot prepare their own food. They play a vital role in an ecosystem by the recycling of nutrients by the decomposition process. Fungi replicate in cooperation by sexually and asexually. Rather than this they also make connotations with bacteria and plants which is called a symbiotic relationship. They are sometimes causative agents of diseases in animals, plants, and humans.



The branch of science which deals with the study of Fungi is called Mycology. In this branch, biologist study the structure, life cycle, mode of reproduction and mode of transmission. In short, all the aspects related to them are being studied in Mycology


Fungi Characteristics

Here are a few characteristics of Fungi:

  1. They are single-celled or multicellular organisms.
  2. Yeast is Single-celled fungi.
  3. Depending on the stages of life fungi substitute between single-celled and multicellular forms of structure.
  4. Cells of Fungi possessed Nucleus and other cellular organelles as animals and plants cells have.
  5. its cell Wall is made up of Chitin. Chitin is a stiff ingredient also initiate in the Insects and Arthropods exoskeletons.
  6. their cell wall does not have cellulose which normally found in the cell wall of plants.
  7. The Multicellular fungi consist of many Hyphae. Singly it is called Hypha.
  8. Hyphae are tubular shape splitting filaments.
  9. Tubular shape hyphae are divided into cell-like partitions or compartments with the help of walls which are called Septa.Fungi
  10. More than one nucleus or nuclei are present in these cells.
  11. While cellular organelles can easily move between the compartments or cells.
  12. They are usually recognized as Multicellular organisms, but their body is not multicellular as animals and plants have.
  13. The network of fungus hyphae is known as Mycelium.Fungi
  14. They are Heterotrophic in nature means they cannot prepare their own food.
  15. They obtain their food and essential nutrients food from organic matter.
  16. Sometimes fungal hyphae make root likes thread structures called Rhizomorphs. Rhizomorphs help to tie fungal hyphae on its surface of the substrate during the process of growing. It also helps to obtain nutrients from the source rapidly.

Fungi Facts

  1. They are swashbucklers, they can acquire nutrients by an extensive assortment of fonts.
  2. Approximately a few acquire nutrients from departed or died organisms.
  3. Some are called Decomposers and Saprobes which break the dead bodies of living organisms and gain nutrients from them.
  4. Some have parasitic characters and they are disease-causing agents in plants.
  5. Few are symbiotic in nature. A cooperative relationship between Animal and Fungi is present which is called Lichen.Fungi
  6. The symbiotic relationship between Fungi and plant roots called Mycorrhiza.Fungi

Fungi Reproduction

  1. they can replicate asexually and sexually.
  2. During the Asexual reproduction spores are release or fragments of mycelium is formed. Mycelial fragment when mature and mycelium splits into several fragments that grow distinctly.


  3. During sexual reproduction, two distinct individuals rage their hyphae. After the fusion of hyphae life cycle start.
  4. The reproduction life cycle varies species to species but normally multicellular fungus possessed Haploid stage, Diploid stage Dikaryotic stage.
  5. Wholly fungi replicate by spores. Spores are minuscule cells or clusters of cells that disband from their parent fungus by the water or wind.Fungi
  6. If they did not get favorable conditions they will undergo in the stage called Dormancy.

Types of Fungi

There are five main phylum�s or groups of Fungi:

    1. Chytridiomycota
    2. Zygomycota
    3. Glomeromycota
    4. Ascomycota
    5. Basidiomycota


Chytridiomycota fungi are microscopic in nature and found in the aquatic environment. They are reproduced by asexually by producing spores. They have flagella which help to move spores. It’s few species are disease-causing, Chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis can spread infection in frogs by scrabbling underneath their skin.


Zygomycota phyla contain detritus. They usually reproduce by the process of asexual reproduction in which spores are produced. These are aseptate it means their hyphae are not separated by the septa. Due to this property, they have large mycelia with many nuclei. These are the causative agent of many diseases in human being by growing on food. Its common example is Rhizopus. Rhizopus stolonifer is bread mold.


Glomeromycetes are the mycorrhizal fungi which live in soil by making a symbiotic association with plants. Some recent researches indicate that almost 80-90% of they live in soil by developing the mycorrhizal association with roots of plants. They acquire sugars by plant, and in reward, these fungi convert minerals of soil in best absorbable form for plants. They reproduce by the asexual mode of reproduction.


Ascomycetes are a pathogen. They are the causative agent for diseases in plants, humans, and animals. They reproduce asexually by producing Asci. Asci are the reproductive sacs that produce spores. They cause many diseases in human being i.e Ringworms, Athlete�s foot, and Ergotism. Ascomycetes have reproductive sacs known as asci, which produce sexual spores, but they also reproduce asexually.


Basidiomycetes are Club Fungi. They reproduce sexually. Its common examples are Mushrooms. Basidiomycetes harvest sexual spores which are called Basidiospores. Basidiospores are present in a special sac or cell which is called Basidia. Basidia are commonly club-shaped structure.


Examples of Fungi


Related Biology Terms

  • Heterotroph � A creature which cannot able to prepare their own food and they gain vital nutrients from organic matter.
  • Mycelium � Hyphael network.
  • Hyphae � Branched fungal filament.