General Characteristics of True Fungi (Mycota or Eumycota)

1. All are eukaryotic
Possess membrane-bound nuclei (containing chromosomes) and a range of membrane-bound cytoplasmic organelles (e.g. mitochondria, vacuoles, endoplasmic reticulum).
2. Most are filamentous
Composed of individual microscopic filaments called hyphae, which exhibit apical growth and which branch to form a network of hyphae called a mycelium.
3. Some are unicellular
e.g. yeasts.
4. Protoplasm of a hypha or cell is surrounded by a rigid wall
Composed primarily of chitin and glucans, although the walls of some species contain cellulose.
5. Many reproduce both sexually and asexually
Both sexual and asexual reproduction often result in the production of spores.
6. Their nuclei are typically haploid and hyphal compartments are often multinucleate
Although the Oomycota and some yeasts possess diploid nuclei.
7. All are achlorophyllous
They lack chlorophyll pigments and are incapable of photosynthesis.
8. All are chemoheterotrophic (chemo-organotrophic)
They utilise pre-existing organic sources of carbon in their environment and the energy from chemical reactions to sythesise the organic compounds they require for growth and energy.
9. Possess characteristic range of storage compounds
e.g. trehalose, glycogen, sugar alcohols and lipids.
10. May be free-living or may form intimate relationships with other organisms
i.e. may be free-living, parasitic or mutualistic (symbiotic).