Section 1

Overview of Fungi

• Fungi are eukaryotic, nonphotosynthetic organisms that can be unicellular or multicellular in form.

• Fungi are among the most important decomposers of organic matter. Fungi obtain nutrients by secreting enzymes and absorbing simple organic molecules from their environment.

• Fungi are made up of short filaments called hyphae. Mats of hyphae are called mycelium. Some species

Vocabulary mold (p. 527) yeast (p. 527) mycology (p. 527) hypha (p. 527)

chitin (p. B27) mycelium (p. B27) septum (p. B27) coenocyte (p. B28)

have partitions called septa in their hyphae, making individual cells. Fungal cell walls contain chitin rather than cellulose, which is found in plant cell walls.

• Most fungi reproduce both asexually and sexually.

• Fungi evolved about 460 million years ago. Fungi probably evolved from prokaryotes and then adapted to various terrestrial environments.

dimorphism (p. 528) sporangiophore (p. 528) sporangium (p. 528) sporangiospore (p. 528)

conidium (p. B28) conidiophore (p. B28) fragmentation (p. B28) budding (p. B28)

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