The term fungus has more than one meaning. It is best limited to members of the kingdom Fungi - in which the normal trophic form is a system of filaments or mycelia and from which spores are occasionally produced. Feeding usually occurs through the mycelia, and the spores usually facilitate distribution and help the fungus colonize new habitats. The true fungi have their evolutionary origins within the chytrids (some taxonomists include these within the fungi). In addition to the true fungi, a number of other evolutionary lineages have produced fungus-like organisms. The most similar are the oomycetes, a lineage that is related to diatoms and brown algae - all being members of the stramenopiles. Other fungus-like organisms include amoeboid slime moulds. The true fungi are heterotrophic organisms. The cytoplasm is enclosed within a chitinous cell wall. While the majority of species grow as multicellular filaments called hyphae, with all of the hyphae together form a mycelium, some species (such as yeasts) also grow as single cells. Sexual and asexual reproduction of the fungi is commonly via spores, often produced on specialized structures (mushrooms). Some species have lost the ability to form specialized reproductive structures, and propagate solely by vegetative growth. Yeasts, moulds (molds), and mushrooms are examples of fungi. The fungi are more closely related to animals than plants, even though the discipline devoted to the study of fungi, known as mycology, often falls under botany. True fungi lack flagella, but the chytrid ancestors are unicellular organisms that swim using flagella. Occurring worldwide, most fungi are largely invisible to the naked eye, living for the most part in soil, dead matter, and as symbionts of plants, animals, or other fungi. They perform an essential role in many ecosystems in decomposing organic matter and are indispensable in nutrient cycling and exchange. Some fungi become noticeable when fruiting, either as mushrooms or moulds. Many fungal species have long been used as a direct source of food, such as mushrooms and truffles and in production of bread, and in fermentation of various food products, such as wine, beer, and soy sauce. Fungi are sources for antibiotics (such as penicillin) used in medicine and for various enzymes such as cellulases, pectinases, and proteases important for industrial use or as active ingredients of detergents. Many fungi produce bioactive compounds called mycotoxins, such as alkaloids and polyketides that are toxic to animals including humans. Some fungi are used for hallucinogenic effects. Several species of the fungi are significant pathogens of humans and other animals, and losses of crops due to fungal diseases (e.g., rice blast disease) or food spoilage caused by fungi can have a large impact on human food supply and local economies.
"At least fifty species [of fungi] are active hunters, albeit on a microscopic scale. They develop little hoops on the side of their threads which carry three sensitive pads on their inner margin. These hoops produce a chemical smell with attracts tiny eelworms. If one wriggles into the ring, the pads suddenly swell and the worm is gripped so tightly, it cannot escape. Filaments from the ring then grow into the worm and suck out the contents of its body." (Attenborough 1995:179) Learn more about this functional adaptation.
Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
"First of all, high-redox-potential laccases are able to oxidize both high- and low-redox-potential substrates, which significantly broadens the degradation ability of the fungi at the beginning of their growth. Secondly, for all high-redox-potential laccases, bioelectroreduction of oxygen on the carbon electrode based on direct electron transfer reactions between the electrode (solid substrate) and the enzymes has been shown, including the two laccases studied in the present work. Indeed, not only laccase, but also all ligninolytic enzymes from white rot fungi (lignin and manganese peroxidases, laccase, and cellobiose dehydrogenase) display the phenomenon of direct electron transfer." (Shleev et al. 2007:46) Learn more about this functional adaptation.
Shleev, S.; Nikitina, O.; Christenson, A.; Reimann, C. T.; Yaropolov, A. I.; Ruzgas, T.; Gorton, L. 2007. Characterization of two new multiforms of Trametes pubescens laccase. Bioorganic Chemistry. 35(1): 35-49.
"Melanin pigmentation of rock-inhabiting fungi confers extra-mechanical strength to the hyphae that are then better able to grow into crevices (Dornieden et al., 1997; Sterflinger and Krumbein, 1997)." (Gorbushina 2007:1619) Learn more about this functional adaptation.
Gorbushina, A. A. 2007. Life on the rocks. Environmental Microbiology. 9(7): 1613-1631.
"Both aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms tend to colonise oil pipelines and oil and fuel storage installations. Complex microbial communities consisting of both hydrocarbon oxidizing microorganisms and bacteria using the metabolites of the former form an ecological niche where they thrive." (Yemashova et al. 2007:315) Learn more about this functional adaptation.
Yemashova NA; Murygina VP; Zhukov DV; Zakharyantz AA; Gladchenko MA; Appanna V; Kalyuzhnyi SV. 2007. Biodeterioration of crude oil and oil derived products: a review. Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology. 6(4): 315-337.
"The variety of substances that fungi can digest is extraordinary. Some can live on petroleum, others on the thin films that coat lenses. Silica, magnesium, iron, even plastic are all consumed by one kind or another." (Attenborough 1995:179)
In de eerste duinenrij, de zeereep, groeien bijzondere soorten paddestoelen, die allemaal leven van dode wortels van de helm. Voorbeelden zijn de duinfranjehoed, de duinveldridder en de duinstinkzwam. Meer landinwaarts in het duingebied komen veel paddenstoelen voor, onder meer aardsterren, de puntmutswasplaat, de elfenwasplaat en de morielje, die buiten het duin zeldzaam zijn. Vaak staan in de duinen nog tot heel laat in het jaar paddenstoelen. Dat komt omdat het daar minder snel vriest dan in het binnenland. Ook in de duinbossen kunnen liefhebbers veel bijzondere paddenstoelen tegenkomen.
Mushrooms are not known to grow on the beach itself. However, unusual species grow in the beach ridge, living off of the dead roots of marram grass. Examples are dune brittlestem, Melanoleuca cinereifolia and stinkhorn. You find lots of other mushrooms in dunes further away from the coast which are otherwise very rare in other biotopes. Examples are collared earthstars, the waxcap Hygrocybe acutoconica, butter waxcaps and morels. Since coastal regions take much longer to freeze than inland, mushrooms are often found in the dunes practically year round. Dune woods are renowned for their abundance of mushrooms.
Isotype for Catalog Number: US Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany Verification Degree: Unknown verification or is "ined." Preparation: Packet Collector(s): A. Herre Year Collected: 1906 Locality: Pt. Lobos, San Francisco, Santa Cruz Mts., San Francisco, California, United States, North America Microhabitat: On rocks above sea, 25-75 feet Elevation (m): 15 to 30