Fungi vs Fungus
The fungi kingdom is one of the kingdoms that have been classified by Whittaker. They are a large group, varying from the habitats, size, and the utility for man (Taylor et al, 1998).
Although plants and animals fungi are eukaryotes, which have a true nucleus, they have been grouped separately from animals and plants. They have a unique body structure, which can be distinguished from other kingdoms (Taylor, 1998). Fungi consist of hyphae, which are threads like, and hyphae all together are called mycelium (mold).
Fungi can be found as unicellular organisms such as yeast (Saccharomyces) or in multi cellular form such as Penicillium. Both types of fungi have rigid cell wall made up of chitin, which is nitrogen containing polysaccharide (Taylor, 1998). Hyphae have been separated into cells, which are not considered as true cells separated by septa like in Penicillium. The continuous protoplasm is divided by septa forming cell like compartments. Some fungi like Mucor, which do not have septa, are called non- septate (aseptate) fungi. These fungi cells contain eukaryotic organelles, Golgi bodies, ribosomes, vacuoles, and endoplasmic reticulum.
Fungi have heterotrophic nutrition because of the lack chlorophylls as like plants: they are not photoautotrophs. Most species of fungi are saprophytic while some are parasitic and mutualistic species. Saprophytic organisms secrete digestive enzymes out of the body on to dead bodies and absorb nutrients. They require the source of carbon, nitrogen and inorganic ions such as Potassium (K+) and Magnesium (Mg2+) (Taylor et al, 1998).
Fungi can be saprophytic, parasitic or mutualistic organisms. Saprophytic fungi produce a large number of light resistant spores which allows it to spread widely. As an example, Mucor and Rhizopus have efficient spreading ability. Parasites cause extreme damage to their host, and they may be facultative or obligate. Obligate parasites cause powdery mildew, downy mildews. Mutualistic relationships such as lichens are relationship between fungi and green algae or blue-green algae: mycorrhiza is a relationship between fungi and plant root. Fungi store carbohydrate as glycogen, not as starch.
Fungi have sexual reproduction as well as asexual reproduction by mean of spores. Fungi are classified based on the method of reproduction. Zygomycota, Ascomycota, and Basidiomycota are three phyla of fungi.
Zygomycetes have sexual reproduction and zygospores are produced during sexual reproduction and asexual reproduction by sporangia. Examples for the Zygomycetes are Mucor, and Rhizopus.
Ascomycetes reproduce asexually by budding and sexual reproduction through ascus. They exist as unicellular forms to multicellular forms. Example is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In Basidiomycetes, sexual reproduction basidiospores are produced and are called basidia.
Fungi are used as food for human and also cause diseases as a pathogen to both animals and plants. Both fungi and fungus have common characteristics, as previously mentioned.
What is the difference between Fungi and Fungus?
• Fungi is the plural form of fungus.
• When it is called as fungus, it usually refers to one particular species i.e. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a fungus, whereas Mucor, Penicillium and Ascomycetes, Basidiomycetes are fungi.
• Fungi have a different characteristic among them, whereas fungus has its own unique characteristics.
• The characteristic of some fungus may have deviated from all fungi, if it has a mutation.