Home » Biology » Classification » Fungi



Big questions: What are fungi? What are mushrooms? Are mushrooms plants?

Once Upon a Time mushrooms were thought to be plants – but they are really fungi, a kingdom of life that wouldn’t be understood until the 1800’s.


Types of fungi

Yeasts are single-celled organisms

molds are long branching thread-like filaments (hyphae) that form visible colonies.

Mushrooms are also filamentous fungi that form large “mushroom cap”.

What are fungi?

Excerpted from moldbacteriafacts.com

Similarly to plants and animal cells, fungal cells contain nuclei with chromosomes.

They have no chlorophyl, and hence they cannot photosynthesize (they are heterotrophic, like animals)

Fungi absorb their food (they are osmotrophic)

The body of a majority of fungi is comprised of a spreading network of very narrow, tubular, branching filaments called hyphae. These filaments exude enzymes, and absorb food, at their growing tips. Although these filaments are very narrow, they are collectively very long, and can explore and exploit food substrates very efficiently. This group is commonly referred to as mold.

A small group of fungi, the yeasts, exists as single cells.

Fungi generally reproduce by means of spores, which develop on, and are released by, a range of unique structures (such as mushrooms, cup fungi, and many other kinds of microscopically small fruiting bodies).


Differences between fungi and bacteria





Learning Standards

Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework

Life Science (Biology), Grades 6–8. Classify organisms into the currently recognized kingdoms according to characteristics that they share. Be familiar with organisms from each kingdom.

Biology, High School. 5.2 Describe species as reproductively distinct groups of organisms. Recognize that species are further classified into a hierarchical taxonomic system (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species) based on morphological, behavioral, and molecular similarities.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Students should begin to extend their attention from external anatomy to internal structures and functions… [students] should move from their invented classification systems to those used in modern biology… A classification system is a framework created by scientists for describing the vast diversity of organisms, indicating the degree of relatedness between organisms, and framing research questions.

SAT Biology Subject Area Test

Evolution and diversity: Origin of life, evidence of evolution, patterns of evolution, natural selection, speciation, classification and diversity of organisms.

%d bloggers like this: