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Fungi

Douglas Wilkin, Ph.D.


Jean Brainard, Ph.D.

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Printed: March 30, 2015

AUTHORS
Douglas Wilkin, Ph.D.
Jean Brainard, Ph.D.

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C HAPTER

Chapter 1. Fungi

Fungi

Identify what fungi are.


Describe habitats of fungi.

What exactly is a fungus?


Theyre not animals or plants, and definitely not protists. So they cannot photosynthesize or eat. And they are much
more than mushrooms.

TEKS

8(A) Define taxonomy and recognize the importance of a standardized taxonomic system to the scientific community.
8(B) Categorize organisms using a hierarchical classification system based on similarities and differences shared
among groups.
8(C) Compare characteristics of taxonomic groups, including archaea, bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, and animals.

Lesson Objectives

Students are introduced to the kingdom Fungi.

Characteristics of Fungi

The following video introduce you to Fungi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dj9m7Oc36wM .

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MEDIA
Click image to the left or use the URL below.
URL: http://www.ck12.org/flx/render/embeddedobject/125343

Do you see the organisms growing on the bread in the Figure 1.1? They belong to the Kingdom Fungi. Molds
growing on foods are some of the most common fungi in our everyday lives. These organisms may seem useless,
gross, and costly. But fungi play very important roles in almost every terrestrial ecosystem on Earth.

FIGURE 1.1
The mold growing on this bread is a common fungus.

Fungi (singular, fungus) are a kingdom in the domain Eukarya. The fungi kingdom may contain more than a million
species, but fewer than 100,000 have been identified. As shown in the Figure 1.2, fungi include mushrooms and
yeasts in addition to molds.

FIGURE 1.2
Several examples of fungi are pictured
here.

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Chapter 1. Fungi

Most fungi are multicellular, but some exist as single cells. Single-celled fungi are known as yeasts. Fungi spend
most of their life cycle in the haploid state. They form diploid cells only during sexual reproduction. Like the cells
of protists and plants, the cells of fungi have cell walls. But fungi are unique in having cell walls made of chitin
instead of cellulose. Chitin is a tough carbohydrate that also makes up the exoskeleton (outer skeleton) of insects
and related organisms.
Habitats of Fungi

Fungi are found all around the world, and grow in a wide range of habitats, including deserts. Most grow in terrestrial
environments, but several species live only in aquatic habitats. Most fungi live in soil or dead matter, and in symbiotic
relationships with plants, animals, or other fungi. Fungi, along with bacteria that are found in soil, are the primary
decomposers of organic matter in terrestrial ecosystems. The decomposition of dead organisms returns nutrient to
the soil, and the environment.
Summary

Fungi are a kingdom in the domain Eukarya that includes molds, mushrooms, and yeasts.
Most fungi are multicellular. They are unique in having cell walls made of chitin.
Most fungi live on dead matter or soil. Some live in aquatic habitats. Many are involved in symbiotic
relationships.
Practice I

Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.


(Resource under construction) http://www.hippocampus.org/Biology Biology for AP* Search: The
Fungi: Overview
1. How do fungi obtain nutrients?
2. How are fungi similar to plants?
3. How do fungi and plants differ?
Practice II

The Fungi Kingdom at http://www.wisc-online.com/Objects/ViewObject.aspx?ID=BIO304 .


Review

1. What are fungi?


2. Explain the significance of the chitin cell wall of fungi.
3. List several habitats where fungi live.

References
1. User:Ciar/Wikimedia Commons. Fungal mold growing on bread. Public Domain
3

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2. Mushrooms: Jonathan Dinh; Yellow Staghorn: milo bostock (milesmilob); Jelly Ears: jenny downing; Mold:
User:Sapp/Wikimedia Commons; Blue Turkeytail: Flickr:Aah-Yeah. Examples of fungi: mushroom, yellow
staghorn, jelly ears, mold, blue turkeytail. Mushrooms: CC BY 2.0; Yellow Staghorn: CC BY 2.0; Jelly Ears:
CC BY 2.0; Mold: Public Domain; Blue Turkeytail: CC BY 2.0