Chap 1 Eco 8 - Introduction Y the Plasmodium organism...

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FIGURE 1.7 Fungi are effective decomposers. The mushrooms produced by this sulphur tuk fungus (Hypholomo fosciculorel in Belgium are fruiting bodies produced by the much larger, unseen masses of threadlike hyphae that penetrate decaying wood and leaf litter. Photoby Philippe Clement/Nature Picturelibrary. making its nutrients available to other organisms. Fungi digest their foods externally, secreting acids and enzymes into their immediate surroundings, cutting through dead wood and dissolving recalcitrant nutrients from soil min- erals. Fungi are the primary agents of rot-unpleasant to our senses and sensibilities,perhaps, but very important to ecosystem functioning. Protists are the single-celled ancestors of more complex life forms The protists are a highly diverse group of mostly single- celled eukaryotic organisms that includes the algae, slime molds, and protozoans. The bewildering variety of pro- tists fillsalmost every ecological role. For instance, algae, including the single-celled diatoms, are the primary pho- tosynthetic organisms in most aquatic systems. Algae can
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