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Kingdom Fungi

Red Yeast Rice Red Yeast Rice Red yeast rice results from fermenting regular rice with a fungus Monascus purpureus. The fungus partially digests the rice starch granules and produces naturally occurring statins, i.e., substances known to inhibit the production of cholesterol in humans. The fungus produces Monacolin K, also known as mevinolin, which is the same active statin as the drug Lovostatin (drug class of statins, used in combination with diet, weight – loss, and exercise for lowering cholesterol ). Let's learn more about yeast and fungi.

Learning Objectives

After completing the topic, the student will be able to:

  • Define and identify the structural features of fungi along with mycorrhizae.
  • Recognize fungi as the closest living relatives of animals.
  • Classify the fungal phyla.
  • Recognize how fungi have a powerful impact on ecosystems and human welfare.
  • Identify useful and harmful effects of fungi.
  • Recognize the role of fungi in medicine.
  • Appreciate the role of fungi in the field of molecular biology.
  • List some of the fungal species we see in everyday life.
  • Identify the different species of yeast that help in fermentation and in food processing.
Mushroom is a familiar kind of fungus Mushroom is a familiar kind of fungus In this large group of fungi the fruit-body forms a characteristic shelf-life outgrowth from the trunks of trees from which they derive nourishment and slowly destroy.
Kingdom Fungi

A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom,Fungi, which is separate from plants,animals, and bacteria. One major difference is that fungal cells have cell walls that contain chitin, unlike the cell walls of plants, which contain cellulose.

Fungi are a huge and important component of the biosphere. Their diversity alone is staggering: Although 100,000 species have been described, and named, biologists estimate that at least 10,000 species of fungi are yet to be discovered. This diversity has enabled fungi to colonize just about every imaginable terrestrial habitat. The fungi make up a kingdom that includes molds, mildews, morels, mushrooms, yeasts, rusts, smuts and blights.

Mycorrhiza- Fungal roots Mycorrhiza- Fungal roots A mycorrhiza is a symbiotic association between a soil fungus and the roots of a vascular plant. The majority of vascular plants roots are mycorrhizal. Here fungal hyphae (thin threads, orange) are seen on the surface of the root. Both organisms benefit from this association. The fungus is able to access nutrient forms unavailable to the plant, process them and pass them on to the roots. The mass of hyphae also provide a large surface area for uptake of water and minerals. The fungus receives carbon compounds that the plant produces via photosynthesis.
Fate of fungi in ecosystems

Fungi are not only diverse and widespread, but they are also essential for the well-being of most terrestrial ecosystems. They breakdown organic material and recycle nutrients , allowing other organisms to assimilate essential chemical elements. Almost all plants depend on a symbiotic relationship with fungi that helps their roots absorb minerals from the soil. Humans also benefit from fungal services to agriculture and forestry as well as their essential role in making products ranging from bread to antibiotics. But it is also true that a tiny fraction of fungi causes diseases in plants and animals.

Blue–green patches on the surface of a rotting orange; grayish–white patches on stale bread, old pickles and jams; greenish patches during the rainy season on old shoes and damp shoes are all made of different types of fungi (Latin fungus, meaning “mushroom”).

Nearly one lakh species of fungi have been described till now and this wide diversity has enabled fungi to colonize in every terrestrial habitat. Fungi are not only diverse and widespread, but they are also essential for the well–being of most terrestrial ecosystems. Fungi break down organic material and recycle nutrients, allowing other organisms to assimilate essential chemical elements. Almost all plants depend on a symbiotic relationship with fungi that helps their roots absorb minerals from the soil.

Fungi play an essential role in making products ranging from bread to antibiotics. A tiny fraction of fungi causes diseases in plants and animals. Fungi are often classified as plants. But fungi differ from plants in many ways. One difference is that fungi are non–green (lack chloroplasts and chlorophyll) and so cannot make their own food. Like the plants, however, they possess cell walls. The fungi are more closely related to animals than plants, yet the discipline of biology devoted to the study of fungi, known as mycology, often falls under a branch of botany.

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