An Introduction to Mycology

The name “mycology” comes from the Greek word “mykos,” which means mushroom. Mycology is hence the study of fungi.

The potential of fungi to penetrate plant and animal tissue was discovered in the early 19th century, but Bassi examined the muscardine sickness of silkworms in 1835 and established that a fungus called Beauveria bassiana was the infection’s primary cause.

Les Teignes, written by Raymond Sabouraud and published in 1910, was a thorough investigation of dermatophytic fungi. He is considered the founding figure of medical mycology.

Define mycology

The study of fungi and how they interact with other living things is known as mycology and the distinctive biochemistry that distinguishes them from other taxa. The eukaryotic organisms known as fungi constitute a separate kingdom. Prior to the development of DNA technology, it was thought that fungi were a subclass of plants.

 Fungi are a distinct lineage of eukaryotes, as determined by DNA and biochemical research. They are identified by their distinctive characteristics such as cell wall comprised of chitin and glucans, which frequently envelops multinucleated cells.

What is the importance of fungi and their benefits?

Fungi can be found in practically every environmental niche, and humans are exposed to them in a variety of living situations.

  1. Decomposition recycling of nutrients and carbon.
  2. Manufacturing facilities for biosynthetic materials. Alcohols, lipids, citric acid, and other commercial products are produced using the fermentation feature, gluconic and oxalic acids.
  3. Key suppliers of medicines, including penicillin.
  4. Model organisms for genetic and biochemical research. Think of Neurospora crassa.
  5. The Hepatitis B vaccine uses Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is widely employed in recombinant DNA technology.
  6. Some fungi can be consumed (mushrooms).
  7. Yeasts offer extra nutrients including vitamins and cofactors.
  8. The flavors of Roquefort and Camembert cheeses are added by penicillium.
  9. Claviceps purpurea’s ergot contains medicinally significant alkaloids that aid in uterine contraction induction, hemorrhage control, and migraine treatment.
  1. To assist reduce malaria, fungi (Leptolegnia caudate and Aphanomyces laevis) are employed to capture mosquito larvae in paddy fields.

What are the harmful effects of fungi?

  1. Destroying food, wood, paper, and clothing.
  2. Diseases that affect humans and animals, such as allergies.
  3. Toxins found in food and in mushrooms are harmful (Mycetism and Mycotoxicosis).
  4. Diseases of plants.
  5. The godown’s agricultural produce, such as vegetables and cereals, has been spoiled.
  6. Break items, including glass lenses, marble statues, bones, and wax, as well as magnetic tapes and discs.

Explain the general properties of fungi

  • They are eukaryotic, and their cells contain membrane-bound cell organelles such as lysosomes, mitochondria, Golgi apparatuses, and nuclei. Mitosis is also seen in them.
  • Have 80S ribosomes and ergosterols in their membranes.
  • Distinguish themselves from animals by having a stiff cell wall that prevents them from moving. All fungi have chitin-based cell walls.
  • Lack chlorophyll and are not autotrophic, being chemoheterotrophs (requiring organic substances as both carbon and energy sources).
  • Fungi are somatotrophic, meaning they absorb nutrients.
  • They receive nourishment either by living as parasites or as saprophytes, which feed on decomposing materials (live off of living matter).
  • There are no obligate anaerobes, and all fungi need water and oxygen to survive.
  • Usually procreate sexually or asexually by dispersing spores.
  • They develop either sexually by budding or sexually but not sexually by hyphal tip elongation.
  • Lipids and glycogen are the two main forms of food storage.

Classification of fungi

     Following are the classification of fungi

Based on the mode of nutrition:


The fungi are saprophytic, meaning they feed on decomposing organic matter to stay alive. Rhizopus, Penicillium, and Aspergillus are other examples.


The term “parasitic” refers to fungi that feed on and absorb nutrients from other living things, such as plants or animals. Taphrina and Puccinia are two examples.


Symbiotic fungi are those that depend on other species in a mutually beneficial interaction to survive. Lichens and mycorrhiza are two examples. The symbiotic relationship between algae and fungi results in lichens. Here, algae and fungi both gain since fungi protect algae, and in return, algae produce carbohydrates for fungi. The symbiotic relationship that exists between fungi and plants is called mycorrhiza. Fungi help plants better absorb nutrients, while plants give fungi organic compounds like sugar.

Based on spore formation


These are created when two distinct cells combine. While the asexual spores are referred to as sporangiospores, the sexual spores are known as zygospores. The septa are absent from the hyphae. Mucor is an example.


Also known as sac fungus. They may be saprophytic, parasitic, decomposers, coprophilous, or any of these. Ascospores are the name for the sexual spores. Conidiospores are used in asexual reproduction. Saccharomyces is an example.


Mushrooms are the most prevalent type of basidiomycetes, and they mostly exist as parasites. In basidiospores, sexual reproduction takes place. By means of conidia, budding, or fragmentation, asexual reproduction takes place. Consider Agaricus.


These fungi are also known as defective fungi since they do not reproduce according to the same cycle as other fungi. They do not sexually reproduce. Conidia are the method of asexual reproduction. Trichoderma is one example.

Reproduction in fungi

Reproduction is a crucial aspect of the biology of fungi, allowing them to survive and spread in their environments. Fungi can reproduce both sexually and asexually, depending on the species and the conditions they are in.

Asexual reproduction in fungi can occur through various means, including fragmentation, budding, and the production of spores. In fragmentation, a portion of the mycelium can break off and grow into a new individual. In budding, a small outgrowth of the cell divides to form a new individual. The production of spores involves the development of specialized structures, such as spores or spores, that can break off and grow into new individuals.

Sexual reproduction in fungi typically involves the fusion of gametes (or hyphae) of different mating types. This process often involves the production of specialized structures, such as fruiting bodies, that contain the reproductive cells. After fertilization, the offspring can grow into a new individual. Some fungi also have the ability to produce both sexual and asexual offspring, allowing them to take advantage of different environmental conditions.


Rimsha Bashir
Rimsha Bashir

Rimsha Saith is a highly knowledgeable microbiologist with a keen interest in the field. Her expertise and passion are in her writing for Microbiology. As a writer, Rimsha has authored numerous articles that have been well-received by both health and medical students and industries.

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