Friday, January 05, 2007


Fungi respresent a very important part of the thallophytes, and are distinguished from the rest by many definite charateristics. They have no chlorophyll and no starch is present in their cells. They do not live on their own manufactured food, but rely on decaying plant or animal remains.

The fungi may be single celled plants such as yeast, which is used for baking bread abd brewing beer or can be multicelled such as mushrooms. In these more advanced forms the main part of the plant is an intricate web of threads known as hyhae, the whole web is called mycelium. This often lives underground or inside the host plant on which the fungus is living. The hyphae threads run about either in or between the cells of the plant and have the power of dissolving the cellulose of the cell walls and living on the contents.

The saprophytic ones act in a similar way on dead organic material and are not generally harmful to plants or animals. The parasites on the other hand cause man a great deal of trouble and expense in trying to get rid of them. Some fungi like 'Athelete's foot attack man. With the larger fungi, the hyphae sometimes come above the ground and form a special structure which can produce spores. This is the fruiting stage of the plant and the mushroom and toadstool are examples of this.

The hyhpae have another property which is important to the fungus and this is the formation of hard tuber like body called sclerotium which is capable of exsiting for a long time without growing. This stage makes it difficult to get rid of fungal infections for they can withstand all adverse treatments yet germinate at favourable conditions.

The fungi lack chlorophyll so they absorb carbohydrates from plants or animals on which they live. Like the animals they are dependent on green plants for their food and canot live without them.

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