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A Kingdom Separate from Plants

A Kingdom Separate from Plants - When the fungus reproduces...

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A Kingdom Separate from Plants The  fungi  (singular,  fungus ) once were considered to be plants because they grow out  of the soil  and have rigid cell walls. Now they are placed independently in their own kingdom of equal rank with  the animals and plants and, in fact, are more closely related to animals than to plants. Like the  animals, they have  chitin  in their cell walls and store reserve food as  glycogen . (Chitin is the  polysaccharide that gives hardness to  the external skeletons of lobsters and insects.) They lack  chlorophyll and are  heterotrophic. Familiar representatives include the edible mushrooms, molds,  mildews, yeasts, and the plant pathogens, smuts and rusts.  Most fungi are terrestrial, multicellular eukaryotes, the body (  soma ) of which is a mass of thread-like  filaments called  hyphae  (singular,  hypha ), which collectively form a  mycelium  (plural, mycelia). 
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Unformatted text preview: When the fungus reproduces, specialized hyphae pack together tightly and form distinctive fruiting bodies , or sporocarps , from which sexual spores are released. The ordinary edible mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi. Fruiting bodies are temporary structures in the life cycle; the primary body of all fungi is in reality the diffuse, widespreading mycelium. The fungi reproduce by spores, both asexual and sexual, and the details and structures of the sexual process separate the kingdom into four phyla (see Table 1 ). The zygote is the only diploid phase in the life cycle; meiosis occurs shortly after the zygote is formed—hence the life cycle is an instance of zygotic meiosis . Chemical signals, pheromones , are exchanged among fungi, especially between pairs preparatory to sexual reproduction....
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