Fungi are organisms that can be found almost anywhere on our planet. There are beneficial fungi and others that are very harmful to humans. These fungi have characteristics that make them belong to an exclusive division of the biological kingdoms. They belong to the Fungi Kingdom. There are more than 144.000 different species, including yeasts, molds, and mushrooms. Between the main characteristics of fungi we found an immobility due to having a heterotrophic diet.
In this article we are going to tell you about all the main characteristics of fungi and their importance at the level of biodiversity.
Table of Contents
Main characteristics of mushrooms
One of the main characteristics of fungi is that all of them have cells with a cell wall made of chitin. These living beings inhabit the length and breadth of the world in different habitats. When we talk about fungus, the most normal thing is to think of mushrooms that have a speckled cap and an elongated white body. However, only some known species of fungi have these characteristics.
Of all the amount of fungi that exist on our planet, humans have only been able to study 5% of them. In this way, as new species are discovered, they are classified to get an idea of what the main characteristics of fungi are. It is estimated that around 1.5 million species are still unidentified since formerly it was thought that fungi were a type of plant. Thanks to the advancement of technology, biology as a science has been able to distinguish these living beings and build a separate biological edge.
Many wonder how these living things originated from ancient times. They separated from other kingdoms about a billion years ago. Although they have separated in a matter of edge, they still have some characteristics in common with the plant kingdom. One of these characteristics is the lack of locomotion and the type of body structures. On the other hand, it also has characteristics similar to another kingdom. And is that it has a biochemical composition very similar to that of protists.
Since they are eukaryotic organisms they are a more modern evolutionary branch. Their cellular structure is more similar to that of plants, but they have notable differences. It has been had to classify in your different phyla that fungi do not have chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a fundamental element for those plants to be able to carry out the photosynthesis process and feed themselves.
Uses of mushrooms
Mushrooms they are organisms that lack chlorophyll, therefore, they do not carry out photosynthesis, nor are they autotrophic organisms. They reproduce through spores and sexually. Thanks to these fungi, human beings have managed to make yeasts, bread, beer, they contribute to the fermentation of wine and the production of alcohol, some types of cheese ...
They are also used in the world of medicines, because, with the use of these fungi, the first penicillins were created that managed to destroy bacteria responsible for deadly diseases.
Mushrooms are characterized by serving as food that nourishes in an acceptable way to humans, since they have large amounts of nutrients. Mushrooms they feed on the waste of other organisms or the organisms themselves directly, therefore, they are rich in nutrients for us.
Fungi are classified into 4 large groups depending on their nature and their characteristics. Let's see what they are:
- Saprophytes: They are those types of fungi that feed on the decomposition of organic matter that comes from other forms of life. It can be both animal life and plant life. They may or may not be specific, so they can feed on a certain type of organic matter or on any general one. Learn More.
- Mycorrhizal: are those fungi that establish a symbiotic relationship with plants. This means that both species can benefit from the present environmental conditions. They can proliferate in their roots and exchange mineral ridges and water as nutrients. These nutrients are generated by the fungus in exchange for carbohydrates and vitamins that are generated by the plant since the fungus cannot synthesize it, since it does not photosynthesize.
- Lichenized: lichens are symbiotic organisms in which a fungus and an alga unite. It can also be with a cyanobacterium. A close relationship is established and together they are able to provide themselves with moisture and nutrients to generate the necessary conditions for their proliferation. In the case of being separated, they could not do it in the same way. Learn More.
- Parasites: They are those types of fungi that grow inside the body of other living beings or established on their surface. In order to nourish itself, it uses the nutrients of the living being that they host here. It can often cause various damages during the process of its feeding, which can be minor or fatal.
There are also fungi that turn out to be harmful to humans, such as ringworm, dandruff, athlete's foot, candidiasis, etc. That they are fungus that alter and damage our body when introduced. They usually affect people who have the lowest defenses.
To avoid these health problems, fungicides have been found capable of killing infectious fungi and killing pests. It is vitally important to kill fungal pests as soon as possible, since the effects can be contagious and they can lodge in living beings and feed on them.
Feeding o nutrition of fungi is through absorption, and this is because they do not have chloroplasts and cannot feed by photosynthesis.
Fungi can grow at different temperatures, but generally temperatures are between 0 ° to 55 ° C and fungi that are called opportunists endure between 35 ° and 40 ° C.
Fungi can reproduce both sexually and asexually. However, they always do so using spores. The spores are resistant to adverse environmental conditions and will wait for the optimal conditions to be able to develop, germinate and that already a new specimen. We can say that spores are equivalent to tree seeds. When they find the right conditions, their growth can be very fast.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about the main characteristics of mushrooms.