All life on earth is divided into five kingdoms: Plants, Animals, Fungi, Protozoa, and Monera (bacteria). In short, fungi are not plants; fungi are a different and more primitive kingdom whose differences provide the wherewithal to poison the denizens of other kingdoms, including the species, Homo Sapiens.
Biologists first identified Fungi in 1700 when life classifications comprised only two species, plants and animals. They mistakenly classified Fungi as Plants. In the 17th Century, Antony van Leeuwenhoek recorded vast differences between Fungi and Plants.
Differences Between Fungi and Plants
- Fungi have no chlorophyll and therefore cannot make their own food.
- Fungi digest food outside their bodies by excreting enzymes that ooze out of the fungus body, and then absorb digested material through the cell walls.
- Fungal cells are simple in structure and function Ð each a clearly visible central body with nucleus. Most are tubular in shape, connected end to end and thereafter deploy as circular growths of hair-like material*.
- Fungi cells do not differentiate and therefore Fungi have no roots, stems, leaves, bark, etc.
- Fungi cell walls are made of chitin and other polysaccharides, not cellulose (Plants) or protein (Animals).
- Fungi reproduce by producing spores which are little more than a fragment of the parent fungus cell. Sexual reproduction is possible for some Fungi under certain conditions, but is infrequent. In most cases spores are produced without any cross-fertilization and, except for mutations, most spore are genetically identical to the parent cell.
- Virtually all growth occurs by elongation of hypal tips, i.e., the organism grows by elongating threads of itself, whereas it propagates by producing spores. As a result of these and other differences, biologists created a third kingdom of living organisms, named the Fungi, in 1784.
There are many different forms of Fungi, including, but not limited to:
- rusts, and
Fungi may exist as either a yeast or a mold and may alternate between these forms, depending on environmental conditions. Yeast are simple cells, three to five microns in diameter. Molds consist of filamen-tous branching structures (called hyphae), two to 10 microns in diameter, that are formed of several cells lying end to end. Molds are the common name for a group of fungi often characterized by the presence of threadlike filaments, called hyphae, that mass together to form mycelia, interwoven visible bodies that resemble cotton.
Development of fungi cultures usually begins with a spore. In the presence of moisture, the spore swells with water much like a germinating Plant seed. Then the spore wall expands through a preformed weak spot [the germ pore] to create a thin, balloon-like protuberance. This first extension of growth is called a hypha (pl. hyphae) resembling long, worm-like structures. With continued growth, the hyphae will branch and grow into a visible colony called a “mycelium.” Molds grow on many surfaces, such as wood, masonry, fabric or skin, and thrive best in warm and moist conditions. Many, however, survive at freezing temperatures, whereas others survive at temperatures approaching boiling.
There are over 200,000 fungal species and they make up a quarter of the biomass of the earth. There are 100,000 genera of the mold species, but only approximately 80 genera are known to cause illness. Molds, however, comprise most indoor air pollution sickness. Once mold growth has started, each mold colony (mycelium) produces millions of microscopic spores within a few days.
Fungi are divided into four main groups:
- Phycomycetes or Rhizopors (black brad mold)
- Ascomycetes including Penicillium and yeast
- Basidiomycetes which are mushrooms, and
Fungi imperfecti, which include the Aspergillus and some Penicillium species.