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Animation: Fungal Growth and Nutrition

by Pearson
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Fungi are multicellular, heterotrophic organisms with bodies composed of long threads of cells called hyphae. Hyphae obtain nutrients by absorbing predigested food. Fungi reproduce sexually or asexually by producing spores, which are dispersed by the wind. Spores that land on a moist substrate will begin to germinate. These spores grow into long branching hyphae. A tangled network of hyphae is called a mycelium. Mycelia can be huge. There are reports that the species <i>Armillaria bulbosa</i> have spreading mycelia that can cover hundreds of acres. As a group, fungi are decomposers and play a key role in the food web. As mycelia grow, they release digestive enzymes into their surroundings. These enzymes break down the macromolecules found in leaves and other decaying matter, liberating smaller subunits like sugars and amino acids. Let us look at how fungi digest and absorb their food. To begin their extracellular digestion, fungi must first release many digestive enzymes. These enzymes decompose complex molecules like cellulose, RNA, proteins, and fats into simpler subunits like glucose, nucleic acids, amino acids, and fatty acids. Once these smaller monomers are produced, the fungal cell absorbs them into its cytoplasm, where they are used to provide energy for the fungal cell or as building blocks for fungal macromolecules. The mushrooms that we find in the forest are the reproductive structures of large underground mycelia. The spores that the mushrooms produce germinate and grow into hyphae.
Fungi are multicellular, heterotrophic organisms with bodies composed of long threads of cells called hyphae. Hyphae obtain nutrients by absorbing predigested food. Fungi reproduce sexually or asexually by producing spores, which are dispersed by the wind. Spores that land on a moist substrate will begin to germinate. These spores grow into long branching hyphae. A tangled network of hyphae is called a mycelium. Mycelia can be huge. There are reports that the species <i>Armillaria bulbosa</i> have spreading mycelia that can cover hundreds of acres. As a group, fungi are decomposers and play a key role in the food web. As mycelia grow, they release digestive enzymes into their surroundings. These enzymes break down the macromolecules found in leaves and other decaying matter, liberating smaller subunits like sugars and amino acids. Let us look at how fungi digest and absorb their food. To begin their extracellular digestion, fungi must first release many digestive enzymes. These enzymes decompose complex molecules like cellulose, RNA, proteins, and fats into simpler subunits like glucose, nucleic acids, amino acids, and fatty acids. Once these smaller monomers are produced, the fungal cell absorbs them into its cytoplasm, where they are used to provide energy for the fungal cell or as building blocks for fungal macromolecules. The mushrooms that we find in the forest are the reproductive structures of large underground mycelia. The spores that the mushrooms produce germinate and grow into hyphae.