Taylor, John W. Department of Plant Biology, University of California, Berkeley, California.
Williams, Marvin C. Department of Biology, University of Nebraska, Kearney, Nebraska.
Last reviewed:April 2019
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- General characteristics
- Asexual reproduction
- Sexual reproduction
- Industrial applications
- Physiological associations
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A eukaryotic kingdom of organisms consisting of the principal decomposers of ecosystems. Fungi are nucleated, usually filamentous, spore-bearing organisms devoid of chlorophyll. Although approximately 100,000 species have been described in the kingdom Fungi, mycologists estimate that there are as many as 1.5 million extant fungal species. Typically, they reproduce both sexually and asexually, and they live as parasites in plants, animals, or other fungi, or as saprobes (organisms that live on decaying organic matter) on plant or animal remains, in aquatic, marine, terrestrial, or subaerial habitats. Yeasts, mildews, molds, smuts, rusts, mushrooms (Fig. 1), and truffles are common examples of fungi. See also: Chlorophyll; DNA barcoding in fungi; Eukaryota; Fungal ecology; Mushroom; Mycology; Parasitology; Phylogeography and biogeography of fungi; Yeast
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