Fungi ~ Useful & Harmful Fungi

Fungi | Useful Role of Fungi | Harmful Role of Fungi

Fungi are eukaryotic and have a true nucleus enclosed within the nuclear envelope.

OccurrenceCommonly found on paper, wood, cloth, animal dung etc.Grow profusely in sugar-rich organic
substances such as palm juice,
sugarcane juice etc.
SizeRanges from 2-10 µm to
about a few cm.
Vary in size from 5 to 10 µm.
ShapeMatch stick-shaped.Usually oval or spherical in shape.
NutritionThe hyphae derive their
nourishment from the bread
piece by the secretion of
various enzymes which
digest the complex materials
into simple molecules
through the process of
extracellular digestion.
Has a saprophytic mode of nutrition
and is dependent on various sugars
such as sucrose, fructose, glucose
RespirationAerobic respiration: Presence of oxygen
Anaerobic respiration: Absence of oxygen
Aerobic respiration: Presence of oxygen
Anaerobic respiration: Absence of oxygen
ReproductionAsexual reproduction: By
means of sporangiophores.
Sexual reproduction: By
means of conjugation.
Asexual reproduction: By means of
Sexual reproduction: By means of
ExamplesMucor, RhizopusSaccharomyces cerevisiae

Useful Role of Fungi

  1. Preparation of fermented foods and bakery products: Yeast is useful in the preparation of fermented foods such as idli, dosa and bakery products such as breads and cakes.
  2. Preparation of alcoholic beverages: Alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine are prepared using yeast.
  3. Preparation of organic acids: Fungi are used in the production of organic acids such as citric acid and gluconic acid.
  4. Production of enzymes: Some fungi are commercially very important because they produce several useful enzymes such as proteases, amylases and cellulases.
  5. Production of antibiotics:
    • The first antibiotic was produced using fungus Penicillium notatum as discovered by Alexander Fleming.
    • Other fungal antibiotics include cephalosporin, fumagillin etc. which are used to cure wounds,
      infections of the throat, brain, eyes etc.
  6. Decomposition and recycling: Some fungi grow on dead and decaying materials of plants and animals and help in the decomposition and recycling of nutrients to the soil, which in turn are used by plants and animals.
  7. Production of alcohol:
    • On a commercial basis, yeast is grown on natural sugars present in grains such as barley, wheat, rice, molasses, corn starch, toddy and crushed fruit juices to produce alcohol.
    • Several industries use alcohol as a solvent and in the manufacture of some drugs.
    • The alcohol can be converted into vinegar with the help of acetic acid bacteria.
  8. Cheese making: Cheese is a milk product and is considered as a valuable food.
    • Steps in Cheese Production
    • Curdling of milk
    • Processing of curd
    • Salting of curd
    • Ripening or curing of cheese
    • Packing and distribution of cheese
  9. Mushroom cultivation:
    • Mushroom cultivation can be carried out indoors, in a small space. Mushrooms are able to grow on any particular substrate or simply compost of a variety of agricultural wastes.
    • They are very rich in vitamins and minerals, which are retained even after cooking, canning and dehydration. They also have sufficient amounts of niacin, pantothenic acid and biotin.

Also, Read Bacteria ~ Useful & Harmful Bacteria

Harmful Role of Fungi

  1. Destruction of goods: Fungi are responsible for the destruction of textiles, wooden articles and leather goods.
  2. Spoilage of food: Fungi such as Penicillium and Aspergillus cause spoilage of food materials such as fruits, vegetables, meat, bread, dairy products etc.

Plant Diseases Caused by Fungi

DiseasePlant AffectedFungal Agent
RustWheatWheat rust
SmutBarley, wheat, oats, sugarcane,
forage grasses
ErgotCorn, rye, wheat, bajra, barleyClaviceps purpurea

Animal Diseases

DiseaseFungal Agent
Lung necrosisAspergillus spp.

Human Diseases

DiseaseFungal AgentSymptoms
Athlete’s footTrichophyton rubrum,
Trichophyton mentagrophytes
and Epidermophyton floccosum
Itchy, peeling skin on the fee
RingwormTrichophyton and MicrosporumScalp, nails and feet get affected
CandidiasisCandida albicansSuperficial infections of skin and mucosal

Also, Read Hygiene ~ A Key to Healthy Life

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