Fungal Diversity and Ecology

Fungi are usually classified in four divisions such as the Chytridiomycota, Zygomycota, Ascomycota, and the Basidiomycota. The shape and internal structure of the sporangia, which produce the spores, are the most useful character for identifying these various major groups. There are also another two conventional groups which are not recognized as formal taxonomic groups i.e. they are polyphyletic, these are the Deuteromycota (fungi imperfecti), and the lichens. The Deuteromycota includes all fungi which have lost the ability to reproduce sexually. Unlike other fungi, the lichens are not a single organism, but rather a symbiotic association between a fungus and an alga. The fungal member of the lichen is usually an ascomycete or basidiomycete, and the alga is usually a cyanobacterium or a chlorophyte. It should also be noted that some organisms carry the name of mold or fungus, but are not classified in the Kingdom Fungi. These include the slime molds and water molds. The slime molds are now known to be a mixture of three or four unrelated groups, and the oomycetes are now classified in the Chromista, with the diatoms and brown algae.

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