Overview of the "true" Fungi


Introduction to the "true fungi"

a.k.a. zygomycetes


those of fungi in general (see previous page)

coenocytic hyphae

morphology of mycelium

characteristic life cycle (see below)


a.k.a. ascomycetes

largest phylum


general fungal characteristics

conidiophores produce conidia (asexual spores)

hyphae are septate (and perforated)

charactersitic life cycle (see below)


a.k.a. basidiomycetes

16,000 spp in 3 classes:

  • Hymenomycetes (mushrooms, bracket fungi, etc.)
  • Gasteromycetes (puffballs, stinkhorns)
  • Teliomycetes (smuts & rusts)


general fungal characteristics

also make various asexual spores

hyphae are septate and perforated, with parenthosomes (except in Teliomycetes)

characteristic life cycle (see below)

Fungal life cycles

Zygomycete life cycle
produce sporangiospores in sporangia on the ends of sporangiophores


click here to see life cycle diagram

may be heterothallic or homothallic

Ascomycete life cycle

conidiophores produce conidia


  1. haploid mycelium produces ascogonia and antheridia
  2. ascogonium produces trichogyne
  3. plasmogamy, with exended dikaryotic phase
  4. out of ascogonium grows dikaryotic ascogenous hyphae
  5. with sterile haploid hyphae forms an ascoma (fruiting body)
  6. asci are produced (among paraphyses) in the hymenium of the ascoma
  7. after karyogamy and meiosis, 8 ascospores (sexual spores) are produced in each ascus

    kinds of ascomata:

    • none (naked asci)
    • apothecium (cup)
    • perithecium (flask)
    • cleistothecium (closed)

Basidiomycete life cycle

various asexual spores are produced

Sexual (for Hymenomycetes and Gasteromycetes):

  1. in haploid mycelium (primary mycelium), two hyphae fuse
  2. plasmogamy, with exended dikaryotic phase (secondary mycelium)
  3. dikaryotic mycelium produces basidioma
  4. basidia are produced on hymenium of basidioma
  5. karyogamy and meiosis take place in basidia, producing 4 haploid nuclei
  6. 4 basidiospores made, each on the end of a sterigma
  7. basidiospores pop off, wind disperse, and germinate into new monokaryotic hyphae


Hymenomycetes (bear spores on surface of basidioma)
mushrooms, toadstools (hymenium on gills)
basidium anatomy (pileus, stipe, annulus)

boletes, most bracket fungi (hymenium on pores)

coral fungi (hymenium on "teeth")

Gasteromycetes (bear spores inside basidioma)

basidium anatomy (gleba and peridium)

puffballs, earthstars, stinkhorns, bird's nest fungi

Teliomycetes (produce basidia on a sorus)

rusts and smuts

e.g., Puccinia graminis (black rust of wheat)


a.k.a. deuteromycetes, imperfect fungi, fungi imperfecti

an artificial taxon (polyphyletic)


lack sexual stage

many are probably ascomycetes, since they form conidia

others are sygomycetes or basidiomycetes that have lost sexual reproduction



click here to go to "true" fungi vocabulary

on to the next topic -- fungal ecology and economic importance!

Plant Diversity main page | Bill's Homepage | Biology Department Homepage