Giant Sequoia • One of the most massive organisms ever to inhabit the Earth. • 275’ tall, live over 3,000 years. • General Sherman Tree’s trunk weighs ~2,770,000 lbs., same as 250 African Elephants or 11 Blue Whales. • Thickest bark (20”), most wood from one tree: can fence 8,000 acre ranch and shingle 80 houses. • One anatomical deficiency: puny root system! 40” deep, 50’ from trunk How do they survive? Fungi, mycorrhiza.
250 African 250 African Elephants Elephants
11 Blue 11 Blue Whales Whales
• The roots of the Giant Sequoia are infected with a fungus which sends billions of tiny, hair-like extensions into the surrounding soil. These extensions provide a huge increase in surface area and allow greater absorption of water and nutrients, and provide the means of survival. • This association is called mycorrhiza.
Variations on the Fungi Theme Mushrooms are sexual structures (fruiting bodies). Fungi which do not have sex (including many molds) are described as imperfect fungi, or deuteromycetes. The bulk of fungal mass is found within their food.
Fungi along with bacteria are the principle Fungi along with bacteria are the principle decomposers. FBI decomposers. FBI They secrete enzymes to digest nutrients They secrete enzymes to digest nutrients extracellularly, which are then absorbed. extracellularly, which are then absorbed. Fungi are capable of breaking down lignin (glue in Fungi are capable of breaking down lignin (glue in wood) and cellulose, few others can do this. wood) and cellulose, few others can do this. Some fungi cause diseases of animals and of plants Some fungi cause diseases of animals and of plants (mycosis = fungus-caused disease). (mycosis = fungus-caused disease). Fungi produce antibiotics (e.g., penicillin) which they Fungi produce antibiotics (e.g., penicillin) which they use to limit ecological competition from bacteria. use to limit ecological competition from bacteria. We take advantage of fungus-mediated decomposition We take advantage of fungus-mediated decomposition in the production of bread, beer, wine, cheeses, and in the production of bread, beer, wine, cheeses, and soy sauce! soy sauce!
• Mycology (“Myketos” Greek for fungus): study of fungi. • ~77,000 described species. And there are undoubtedly many more to be described. • Fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants. See table on next slide.
Fungi Compared to Plants K. Fungi Feature K. Plantae Heterotrophic Nutrition Autotrophic Filamentous Body Plan Box-like cells Always non- motile Sperm Motile in some forms Chitin Cell Walls Cellulose Inside nucleus (different!) Mitosis Nucleus is disassembled
Some Features of Kingdom Fungi 1) Eukaryotic heterotrophs 2) Mostly multicellular, yeasts are notable exceptions 3) Cell walls of chitin 4) Extra-cellular digestion, source of antibiotics 5) Filamentous body plan with thread-like hyphae (mycelium) 6) Reproduce with spores 7) Zygotic lifecycle: adults haploid, zygote is primary diploid stage, undergoes meiosis.
Fungus Body Plan • Hyphae: filaments of fungus.
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