The Fungal Diversity


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(a) This brightfield micrograph shows ascospores being released from asci in the fungus Talaromyces flavus var. flavus. (b) This electron micrograph shows the conidia (spores) borne on the conidiophore of Aspergillus, a type of toxic fungus found mostly in soil and plants. (c) This brightfield micrograph shows the yeast Candida albicans, the causative agent of candidiasis and thrush. (credit a, b, c: modification of work by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
These ascospores, lined up within an ascus, are produced sexually. (credit: Peter G. Werner)
The life cycle of an ascomycete is characterized by the production of asci during the sexual phase. The haploid phase is the predominant phase of the life cycle.

Source: OpenStax Microbiology

The Basidiomycota (basidiomycetes) are fungi that have basidia (club-shaped structures) that produce basidiospores (spores produced through budding) within fruiting bodies called basidiocarps. They are important as decomposers and as food. This group includes rusts, stinkhorns, puffballs, and mushrooms. Several species are of particular importance. Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungus commonly found as a yeast in the environment, can cause serious lung infections when inhaled by individuals with weakened immune systems. The edible meadow mushroom, Agricus campestris, is a basidiomycete, as is the poisonous mushroom Amanita phalloides, known as the death cap. The deadly toxins produced by A. phalloides have been used to study transcription.

The life cycle of a basidiomycete alternates a haploid generation with a prolonged stage in which two nuclei (dikaryon) are present in the hyphae.

Source: OpenStax Microbiology

Finally, the Microsporidia are unicellular fungi that are obligate intracellular parasites. They lack mitochondria, peroxisomes, and centrioles, but their spores release a unique polar tubule that pierces the host cell membrane to allow the fungus to gain entry into the cell. A number of microsporidia are human pathogens, and infections with microsporidia are called microsporidiosis. One pathogenic species is Enterocystozoan bieneusi, which can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, cholecystitis (inflammation of the gall bladder), and in rare cases, respiratory illness.

(credit “Ascomycota”: modification of work by Dr. Lucille Georg, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; credit “Microsporidia”: modification of work by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Source:

Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/microbiology