The Life Cycle of Fungi? When most people think of fungi, they think it’s just one thing that can grow in different places. However, there are more than 90,000 other fungi species in existence.
Although some fungi look like plants, they’re not plants, and there’s a lot about fungi that sets them apart from other living and breathing things on the planet. If you’d like to learn more about fungi, such as how it develops and spreads, you’re in the right place.
What Is a Fungus?
Fungus is an organism classified as a Eukaryote. It has a nuclear membrane and nucleus. It produces spores and is commonly found outdoors, especially on trees and logs in forests and other areas with lots of foliage.
While fungus often develops and spreads outdoors, that isn’t the only place where you can find it. It’s not uncommon to find fungus in the home, including on old, spoiled food. Fungi have cells similar to plants and animals, which eliminates them from being classified as bacteria.
How Fungi Reproduce
Fungal reproduction is different from the ways that other organisms reproduce. Everything starts with the spores. The spores exist and eventually produce mycelium, causing the sexual union to occur.
Once the sexual union takes place, sexual fruiting can occur, causing more spores to repeat the cycle. Both sexual and asexual fruiting can take place, causing fungi to spread and expand in different areas.
Sexual reproduction involves the fusion of two fungi. On the other hand, asexual reproduction is slightly different. Any hyphae cells that break off on their own will then begin growing into new types of fungi. When there are lots of spores, those spores can quickly grow and turn into fungus, too.
Fungi and Plants
Unlike plants, fungi can’t make their own food. The gametes for fungi are spores, while the gametes for plants include both seeds and pollen. Plants are producers that provide something useful to other animals and humans. However, fungi are decomposers. Instead of producing something useful, they can cause damage to foods, plants, and shrubs.
While many differences exist between fungi and plants, the two have a unique symbiotic relationship. Fungi will often have an impact on a plant’s roots, making it possible for the plant to absorb more water and grow faster. The plants give the fungi carbs. Both can benefit from one another, even though they’re opposites.
Fungi and Animals
Believe it or not, there is a connection between fungi and animals. In the late 1990s, scientists developed vital information on the existence of fungi and the relationship between them and the animals that we know and regularly see today.
It’s believed that fungi were once connected to animals and eventually split from them more than one billion years ago. For that reason, there’s enough evidence to believe that fungi have more of a connection to animals than it does to any plants on the planet.
While plants go through the photosynthesis process, fungi are incapable of doing so. As a result, it becomes more evident that fungi have more in common with animals than they do with plants that can produce food themselves and are self-synthesizers.
Fungi are heterotrophs, just like animals, whereas plants are autotrophs. Who would’ve thought that fungi and animals, such as dogs, bears, and wolves, would have a closer relationship than fungi and plants?
Diseases Caused by Fungi
Fungi can lead to serious fungal infections that cause disease. These are a few of the several diseases caused by fungi.
The candida infection can occur in different areas of the body, including the vagina, mouth, and throat. It often leaves the area feeling sore, itchy, and irritated. Treatment varies depending on the location of the infection but may include taking an oral medication or applying a topical ointment to the impacted area.
Fungal Eye Infection
Although not as common as a candida infection, fungal eye infections can develop and put an individual’s vision at risk. Symptoms of the condition include difficulty seeing, pain in the eye, light sensitivity, and an unusual discharge coming from the eye. The infection would likely need treatment that consists of eye drops and antibiotics.
If you’ve ever had an athlete’s foot diagnosis, you should know it develops due to a fungal infection. It can cause an itchy, irritating rash that makes it difficult to walk. It can also lead to foot odor. Treatment often consists of antifungal medication to clear things up.
Ringworm causes a red, itchy, and irritating rash in the shape of a circle found on different parts of the body, including the neck, legs, and arms. It’s caused by a fungal infection and is irritating to experience. Topical antifungal medication often provides much-needed relief while clearing up the infection within a few days.
The Life Cycle of Fungi
The life cycle starts with fungi spores. These spores can develop nearly anywhere. You might see them on an old tree log in the backyard or on a piece of food that someone left out for too long. Once the spore attaches itself to something, it creates enzymes that start to break down whatever it attached itself to, such as a sandwich or piece of cake.
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With access to the food source, the fungus will continue to grow and spread. As it spreads and creates hyphae, it then produces mycelium, which looks like matted white threads. The fungi continue to make fungal structures that spread. These structures come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors, so you never know what to expect.
If you thought fungi was a plant, you now know that it has a lot more in common with animals than it does with plants, even though it uses plants for its benefit. With more than 90,000 species of fungi on the planet, you can expect to see it or deal with it in some way or another.