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Objectives

Students should be able to:

  1. Understanding of fungal diversity and their evolutionary relationships.
  2. Comparison of fungal sub-groups in terms of body and reproductive structures.
  3. Understand the taxonomy of the kingdom Fungi
  4. Recognize and distinguish various representatives of fungi (e.g., Peziza, Rhizopus, Penicillium, Coprinus, and Schizosaccharomyces).
  5. Understand the life history, ecology, habitats, and adaptations of selected Fungi.
  6. Review the economic importance of the group Fungi.

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Introduction

Fungi are heterotrophic by saprotrophism, i.e., they do not synthesize organic food components in the same manner plants do but, must obtain their nutritional needs by decomposing and absorbing ready-made organic materials. In this way, they also release inorganic chemicals that are reused by green plants for manufacturing new materials. Here lies the heart of the economic importance of the group. Fungi, along with bacteria serve as the machinery that ensure the continual and essential recycling of nutrients on which all forms of life ultimately depend.

Fungi are also economically important in light of millions of dollars in losses due to numerous plant and animal diseases they cause. The chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease, wheat rust and corn smut in respect to plants; various skin diseases and yeast infections in humans and animals are examples of significant economic losses emanating from fungi. On the positive side, we must take notice of significant uses of yeast in bakery and other food industries. Also, yeast has provided the first sample of a eukaryotic cell used for detailed genomic studies.

With exception of unicellular members, a fungal body is made of thread-like filaments called mycelia or hyphae. This body may or may not be partitioned into cellular-like compartments by walls called septae. Unlike the material in the cell wall in plants (cellulose) and that of bacteria (peptidoglycan), the cell walls in fungi consist primarily of chitin, although there are mixtures of other carbohydrates and even cellulose.

Fungi reproduce by both sexual and asexual methods using spores. Classification follows the type of structure in which spores are produced, and the number of these spores varies from one group to another.

There are four phyla (formerly, Divisions, as was also once used for plants) in the Kingdom Fungi, namely,

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Zygomycota also called the Zygospore fungi.

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Ascomycota the Sac fungi

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Basidiomycota the Club fungi

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Deuteromycota or, Imperfect Fungi

 

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Pre-lab Activities

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Pre-Lab Activity #1 - Fungal Phyla

Using resources available to you, find representative imagery of the following fungi:

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Rhizopus stolonifer

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Saccharomyces cerevisae

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Peziza spp.

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Agaricus bispora

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Penicillium spp.

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Aspergillus spp.

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Coprinus spp.

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Pilobolus spp.

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Pre-Lab Activity #2 - Lichens

Using resources available to you, find a representative image of the following lichen types:

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Crustose

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Foliose

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Fruticose

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Pre-Lab Activity #3 - Fungal Life Cycles

Using resources available to you, find imagery of the following fungal life cycles:

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Black Bread Mold, Rhizopus stolonifer

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Any Basidiomycete

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Pre-Lab Activity #4 - Data Collection Sheet

Download and print out the Data Collection Sheet for the Fungi

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Pre-lab Questions (html version)        Pre-Lab Questions (Word version)

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The Laboratory Activities and Data Collection

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Lab Activity #1 - Colony Characteristics of Fungal Plate and Slant Cultures

Materials:

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Selected fungal cultures (plates / slants of specimens A - D)

Procedures:

  1. Examine the fungal culture plates provided (Specimens A, B, C, and D), and complete the table on your data collection sheet.

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Lab Activity #2 - Reproductive Structures and Spores of the Fungi

Materials:

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Selected slides of fungal representatives (slides E - I)

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Light microscope


Procedures:

  1. Examine the mushroom fungi, lichens, and slide preparations of mycorrhizae (Specimens E, F, G) displayed. Provide the data requested on your Data Collection Sheet.
     

  2. Specimen H is a prepared slide of mycorrhizae. Examine the slide under low and high power. Sketch the appearance of the mycorrhizae in the space provided on your Data Collection Sheet.  Also answer the question associated with Specimen H.
     

  3. Examine Specimen I, a mix of lichens. Sketch the appearance of Specimen I in the space provided on your Data Collection Sheet. Also answer the questions associated with Specimen I.

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Lab Activity #3 - Microscopic Observation of Living Fungi


Materials:

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Selected fungal culture (Specimen J)

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Light microscope

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Slide and cover slip

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Distilled water

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Dropper

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Methylene blue stain

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Procedures:

  1. Prepare a wet mount of specimen J by adding a drop of the solution onto a clean slide and topping with a cover slip.
  2. If you have difficulty viewing, reduce the illumination.
  3. Observe any structural changes that are evident to you. This should be done prior to staining.
  4. You may stain your preparation using a simple stain such as methylene blue. Use a small drop of the stain to avoid over staining
  5. Draw in the space provided on your Data Collection Sheet, your observations as seen under low and high power objectives.

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Lab Activity #4 - Fungal Growth and Structure


Materials:

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Plate of selected fungal culture (Specimen K)

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Dissecting microscope

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Light microscope

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Slide and cover slip

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Distilled water

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Dropper


Procedures:

  1. Open the cover plate.
  2. Examine the growing mold under a dissecting microscope.
  3. Use a pair of forceps to sort out and separate the mycelia
  4. Transfer a small amount of the mycelia to a clean slide, add a drop of water and a cover slip, and examine under low power of a light microscope.
  5. Sketch your observation and label the features recognized in the space provided on your Data Collection Sheet.

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Lab Activity #5 - Fungal Representatives


Materials:

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Selected representatives of the Kingdom Fungi

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Dissecting microscope

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Hand lenses


Procedures:

  1. Examine the fungal representatives set out in the lab.

  2. Provide the requested information found on the Data Collection Sheet.

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Post-lab Activity and Data Analysis

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Results and Analysis:

  1. Fill in all data requested on the Data Collection Sheets.
     

  2. Answer all Post-Lab Questions.
     

  3. Attach all materials to the Data Collection Sheet or Post-Lab Questions as requested.
     

  4. Return all materials to the area designated by the instructor.

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Post-Lab Questions (html version)    Post-Lab Questions (Word version)

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