Types of Fungi


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  • There are literally thousands of different kinds of fungi. Two hundred thousand species have been identified world wide and there are likely to be well over a million species.

  • We identify different species mostly by the structure of their fruiting bodies and the arrangement and types of spores which they produce.

  • There are a great many fungi which are very small (microfungi). They will not be covered here. However, there are many other fungi with large enough fruiting bodies to be easily seen.

  • There are over 3000 of these larger fungi in Britain.

  • Many fungi have fruiting bodies e.g. a mushroom which are stalked. This helps to raise the spores some distance off the ground, so that when they are released, they can easily catch wind currents and be carried to new places.
  • Fruiting bodies of fungi will generally produce millions of spores. A single fruiting body like a mushroom, may produce more than 10,000 million spores!
  • Even though they are tiny, finding room for all these spores on a relatively small fruiting body presents a major problem. The fruiting bodies of fungi are therefore cleverly engineered to provide space for the production of enormous numbers of spores, without having to produce an enormous fruiting body to accommodate them all. Different types of fungi have accomplished this in different ways.


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Fungi such as mushrooms, have hundreds of paper-thin folds, called gills, on the underside of the mushroom cap. The spores are produced all over these gills, which provide an enormous surface area base for the spores. Gills are sometimes also known as lamellae.


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Some other fungi have small tubes or pores within the fruiting body. The spores develop all over the inside of the pores, which again help to produce a large surface area.

Still other fungi have developed fruiting bodies covered with enormous numbers of tooth-like structures which bear the spores.  Others just have large numbers of folds all over the fruiting body. All of these different methods for increasing surface area of the fruiting body and the different structures which result, provide a useful way to identify different kinds of fungi.