Studying about the characteristics of fungi is very fascinating. Beginning from the simple structure to the complex mode of reproduction, they represent one of the most diverse eukaryotic organisms. Fungi are present in any kind of habitat. To be more precise, they are ubiquitous in distribution. Recent studies have led to the conclusion that fungi (singular fungus) are more closely related to animals, rather than plants. Hence, they are categorized in a separate group, different from those of microbes, plants and animals. The branch of biology that deals with the study of fungi is called mycology.
Unlike plants, fungi lack the photosynthetic pigment (chlorophyll) and depend on others for food. They play a major role in decomposing the dead organisms and cleaning the environment to make a sustainable place for other living entities. The versatile mode of reproduction in fungi is also responsible for their vast occurrence. Take the example of fungi reproduction by formation of spores. The spores are lightweight and disperse easily from one place to another, by wind, water or other agents. In favorable conditions, the fungal spores germinate and develop into new fungi. Know more on fungi facts.
Reproduction in Fungi: An Overview
Can you believe that more than 100,000 species of fungi have been identified scientifically? An exclusive example of fungi is mushroom, which all of us are acquainted with both the edible and poisonous varieties. Other familiar types of fungi are mold, yeast, rusts, etc. Fungi reproduction occurs both sexually and asexually. Nevertheless, the mode of reproduction in fungi varies from one phyla to another. In fact, fungi are differentiated with respect to the spore type and sexual reproduction strategy. Following is a brief information concerning asexual and sexual reproduction of fungi:
Asexual Reproduction in Fungi
Fungi asexual reproduction is observed more frequently than sexual reproduction. Nearly all types of fungi have the ability to reproduce asexually. Also, it accounts for the widespread distribution of fungi. At a time, millions of asexual spores are released, and when these spores land on a fertile environment, they germinate into new individuals. The various types of asexual reproduction in fungi are spore formation, fragmentation, budding and fission.
Out of these, vegetative spores or conidia are the most prevalent types. Under asexual spore formation, the fungal hyphae produces spores either internally or externally. Fragmentation, as the term signifies, involve breaking of the fungal mycelium into several fragments. Each of the fragmented parts then develop into a new fungus. In case of budding, the parental cell protrudes a bud like structure that bears daughter nuclei. This bud breaks off and then grows into a new fungus. Know more on organisms that reproduce asexually.
Sexual Reproduction in Fungi
Fungi reproduction by sexual method is very complex. Though the basic phenomenon for fusion of male and female gametes remain the same, differences are observed amongst various types of fungi. As a part of the initiation phase in sexual reproduction cycle, compatible haploid hyphae come together. After that, the male and female cells combine together, resulting in the formation of fertile diploid cells called spores. The spores are then released to the environment.
Hope this article on fungi reproduction was informative. Except glomeromycetes, sexual reproduction is observed in all kinds of fungi. As you see, spores are produced in both asexual and sexual types of reproduction in fungi. The difference however lies in the genetic makeup of the spores. While those formed during asexual reproduction are vegetative, spores formed after sexual reproduction contain genomes of the parental fungal hyphae.