Classification

At present, fungi are classed into four groups, including:
• Zygomycetes: fungi living in the soil or on decomposing animal or vegetal organic material. Their reproduction is asexual and occurs by scattering spores, which are produced in special structures (black bulb-type sporangia). If the spores are formed in a different type of sporangium (zygosporangium), a sexed cycle occurs. This group includes the “black mildew” which develops on fruits, vegetables and many baked products. Many species in the class Zygomycetes form mycorrhizas.
• Ascomycetes: they include a wide variety of species, which are very different in size and living conditions. They are equipped with asci, sac-like structures that produce sexed spores (ascospores), which form at the end of the hyphae and are called conidia. This group includes yeast, edible mushrooms (Morchella esculenta and truffles) and some marine species.
• Basidiomycetes: this group includes edible mushrooms and plant parasites such as smuts and rusts. They usually consist of a fruit-bearing body composed of a stipe and cap, which forms when the fungus reproduces through sexed reproduction. The lower part of the cap is provided with a series of parallel or entwined lamellae, which host the basidia, tiny sporangia where sexed spores are formed. Nevertheless, the most frequent form of reproduction is the asexual one, which occurs through the spores produced by the conidia.
• Deuteromycetes: this group includes the species in which no sexual reproduction cycle has ever been observed and that cannot be grouped under any one of the other three classes.

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From the Multimedia section

Facts

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    Decomposing organisms

    The ability to destroy organic matter has been used by man...

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