What is a fungus and its Habitat?

Definition of Fungi

Fungi is a leaving group of organisms that are classified into their own kingdom. That means they are not animals neither plants nor bacteria. Members of this kingdom are usually unicellular and multicellular eukaryotic organisms that are having a heterotrophic mode of nutrition and have an important role in the ecosystem.

What is a Fungus?

fungus (plural: fungi or funguses) is any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, which is separate from the other eukaryotic life kingdoms of plants and animals.

They reproduce sexually and asexually both, and they also have a symbiotic relationship with plants, animals, and bacteria. However, some species are responsible for some diseases in plants and animals.

There are millions of species out there in the environment some of these are used in medicine, food, and also extract some industrially useful products.

Fungi are not plants. Living things are organized for study into large, basic groups called kingdomsFungi were listed in the Plant Kingdom for many years.

The fungus is a plural of fungi, According to recent researches there are about 5.1 million fungal species are exist, these include yeast, molds, rusts, smuts, mildews, and mushrooms. there are many known fungal-like organisms are exist including slime molds and oomycetes (water molds), they do not belong to the kingdom Fungi but are often called fungi.

what are fungi and fungal habitat?

To understand what are fungi? let’s start with something familiar: we always have seen a green, black or cottony growth on the bread or a common mushroom a cap-like structure normally seen on the deadwood or in a garden is referred to as a fungus. This is just a common identification but how biologists describe fungi?

Fungi are eukaryotic organisms; i.e., their cells contain membrane-bound organelles and clearly defined nuclei.

Although Fungi is nigher a plant nor animal, Historically, they were included in the plant kingdom; however, because of lack of chlorophyll and are distinguished by unique structural and physiological features (i.e., components of the cell wall and cell membrane), they have been separated from plants.

In addition, fungi are clearly distinguished from all other living organisms, including animals, by their principal modes of vegetative growth and nutrient intake. About 80,000 to 120,000 species of fungi have been described to date, although the total number of species is estimated at around 1.5 to 5.1 million.

With photosynthetic pigments chlorophyll being absent, it has a heterotrophic mode of nutrition. In contrast to animals that typically feed by ingestion, fungi obtain their nutrients by extracellular digestion due to the activity of secreted enzymes, followed by absorption of the solubilized breakdown products. absorption can be seen as the ultimate determinant of the fungal lifestyle.

The colonization of a food source, once reached, is achieved most efficiently by growth as a system of branching tubes called hyphae, which together make up the mycelium.

Hyphae are generally quite uniform in a different taxonomic group of fungi. One of the few features of distinction that they do offer is the presence or absence of cross walled septa.  Not all fungi grow as hyphae. Some grow as discrete yeast cells that reproduce by fission or, more frequently budding. Mainly it is reproduced by means of sexually or asexually both. 

With this unique morphological characteristic, it grows in a wide range of habitat that we dissed below.

Habitat of fungi.

Fungi are found all around the world and grow in a wide range of habitats, including deserts. Most grow in land (terrestrial) environments, but several species live only in aquatic habitats. Most fungi live in either soil or dead matter, and many are symbionts of plants, animals, or other fungi.

They colonize almost every habitat on earth where the organic matter is present, but they First prefer a dark and humid environment. They can successfully colonize in hostile environments, such as tundra. However, about 80% of members of the kingdom fungi grow in the forest where the dark and dumb environment is rich in decaying debris from plants and animals.

Usually, fungi grow in a wide range of habitats from the terrestrial ecosystem to the aquatic ecosystem. they also found in the most extreme environment that we can’t even imagine.

For example; from dry welly of Antarctica to water held in tropical bromeliads and the extreme environment like acidic and basal water, in high temperature and pressure, even recently NASA found that fungi can grow at the highly radiated environment that is 200 times more than those that can kill a human.

As we discussed above that they found everywhere they are searched for, but the most important thing is:

Where is Fungi Found?

Fungi can be single-celled or very complex multicellular organisms. They are found in just about any habitat but most live on the land, mainly in soil or on plant material rather than in sea or freshwater.

All members of the kingdom fungi prefer dark and humid conditions. Out of this majority of the members of this kingdom found in either soil or dead matter, and many are symbiotic of plant, animal, algae, and other fungi.

Because of that, they are primary decomposers of organic matter in terrestrial ecosystems along with bacteria. and this decomposition leads to the return of the nutrient into the soil and environment.

Out of these terrestrial members, over 80% of the known fungi are associated with trees either as symbiont or parasite. The symbiotic relation between tree root and fungi are known as a mycorrhizal association.

Some other fungi such as Marasmius oreades, and an edible mushroom, Agaricus campestris, etc., prefer open and grassy places. while some of the others prefer to grow on animal dung that is known as coprophilous fungi ( Chaetomium spp.)

Out of these some coprophilous fungi require specific types of animal dung to complete their life cycle. (For example; Coprinus radiatus and Panaeolus campanulatus are almost exclusively restricted to horse dung).

some members of kingdom fungi are only preferred to inhabit in water. For example; the member of fungal phyla: Chytridiomycota or we can say that all chytrids are preferred to inhabit in water. Even if some of them found in a terrestrial environment they also depend on the water to complete their life cycle.

Some of the parasitic fungi found inside the host. ( not all fungi that found inside the host is parasitic such as the member of Neocallimastigomycota are found in the rumen of animal that helps digest food.)

The well-known species of parasitic fungus is Cordyceps sinensis, also known as the zombie fungi which is an insect parasite. as you can see in below image it uses the whole body of the insect as a host and kills the host.

what are fungi and fungal habitat:
zombie fungi use ant as a host to colonize there spore and grow.
Zombie killer Fungi

Other fungi, such as Coccidioides immitis, that cause Pneumonia when their spores are inhaled and colonized in the human lung.

History of fungi

The word “fungus” is directly adopted from the Latin word “fungus”. The term “fungus” was derived from the Greek word ‘sponges‘ means the Microscopic structure and morphology of mushroom and molds.

Evidence shows that ancient humans are use Fungi for their benefit. Ötzi the Iceman, a well-preserved mummy of a 5,300 -year-old Neolithic man found frozen in Australian Alps. Carries two species of polypore mushrooms that may be used as tinder (Formes fomentarius) or Medicinal purpose ( Piptoporus betulinus).

On the other hand, Some of the oldest written records contain a reference to the destruction of crops that were probably caused by pathogenic molds.

Who discovered fungi ?

No data shows that who discovered fungi. As shown in the above section that ancient people also used it as food and medicine. So here we discuss who introduced or connect the two worlds, here I said two worlds because I think fungi has it’s own world. And at that stage of technology, we don’t know as much about Kindom fungi. Our information about this tiny organism is still limited.

After the development of the microscope in the 17th century. The first fungal spores were observed by Giambattista Della Porta in 1588. However, detailed work in the development of microscopy is considered to be the Publication of Pier Antonio Michelin’s 1729. He worked on Nova plantarum genera. Micheli not only observed spores but also showed that under the proper condition.

Characteristics of Fungi.

  1. Fungi are eukaryotic, non-vascular, non-motile, and heterotrophic organisms.
  2. They may be unicellular or filamentous.
  3. They reproduce by means of spores.
  4. Fungi exhibit the phenomenon of alternation of generation.
  5. Fungi lack chlorophyll and hence cannot perform photosynthesis.
  6. Fungi store their food in the form of starch.
  7. Biosynthesis of chitin occurs in fungi.
  8. The nuclei of the fungi are very small.
  9. The fungi have no embryonic stage. They develop from the spores.
  10. The mode of reproduction is sexual or asexual.
  11. Some fungi are parasitic and can infect the host.
  12. Fungi produce a chemical called pheromone which leads to sexual reproduction in fungi.
  13. Examples include mushrooms, molds, yeast

FAQs

What is a fungus?

fungus (plural: fungi or funguses) is any member of the group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, which is separate from the other eukaryotic life kingdoms of plants and animals.

What is a simple definition of fungi?

Fungi are a group of living organisms that are classified in their own kingdom. This means they are not animals, plants, or bacteria. Unlike bacteria, which have simple prokaryotic cells, fungi have complex eukaryotic cells like animals and plants.

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