Phylum and number of species Structure

Asexual reproduction

Sexual reproduction (where identified)


Zygomycota 600 species

coenocytic hyphae

spores from sporangia

conjugation results in zygospores

Mucor, Rhizopus

Basidiomycota 25,000 species

septate hyphae

rare (conidia in a few species)

basidia produce basidiospores

Puccinia, Ustilago (mushrooms)

Ascomycota 60,000 species

septate or unicellular hyphae

conidia, budding

asci produce ascospores

yeasts, morels, Penicillium species

Sexual Reproduction

Many, but not all, species of fungi are also able to reproduce sexually. Fungi are neither male nor female. Instead, they occur in mating types that are sometimes called minus and plus. When two different mating types of the same species encounter one another, the hyphae of one mating type fuse with the hyphae of the opposite mating type. These fused hyphae give rise to a specialized structure, which produces and scatters genetically diverse spores.

The ability of some fungi to reproduce both sexually and asexually provides an adaptive advantage. When the environment is favorable, rapid asexual reproduction can ensure an increased spread of the species. During environmental stress, sexual reproduction can ensure genetic diversity, increasing the likelihood that offspring will be better adapted to the new environmental conditions.

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