Fungus and Plants

Bentivenga, Stephen P INVAM at WVNVM.WVNET.EDU
Wed Jul 5 16:21:00 EST 1995


On July 2, Billy <76271.2362 at compuserve.com> asked,
"What makes Fungus different from plants and how did fungus evolve?"


As already stated by someone else, plants (most) make their own food
from carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight.  Fungi (the plural of fungus)
lack the equipment to do this (chlorophyll, chloroplasts).  Fungi have
what is known as an "absorbtive" nutrition.  They excrete enzymes outside
their body and then absorb a pre-digested meal.

Fungi look different from plants as well.  The main portion of their
body is composed of thin threads called "hyphae" (most fungi anyway).
The cell walls in most fungi are quite different from plant cell walls.
Plants have a high proportion of cellulose in their walls while most fungi
lack cellulose and have chitin or chitosan (like the exoskeleton of insects).

For many years, scientists have asked the same question, "how did fungi evolve?
"  Recent evidence suggests that the fungi are much more closely related to
single-celled animals, than to any of the plant groups.  Thus, it
appears that fungi evolved from a group of animals called "Choenoflagellates"
and not from plants.

For many years, fungi were considered to be primative plants.  It is now
obvious that they are not plants at all.  Most biologists place the fungi
in their own kingdom called the "Mycota"  As it turns out, even this
group is made up of many organisms which are not really related to each
other.

I hope this answers your questions ...........

Stephen Bentivenga
West Virginia University



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