Introduction to Mycology

Mycology means the study of mushrooms (Greek, mykes = mushroom, logos = discourse).

The systemic study of fungi began with the invention of microscope.

The Italian botanist Pier’ Antonio Micheli is regarded as the founder of the science of mycology.
In 1729, he published his researches on fungi.

What are fungi?
It is difficult to give a precise definition of a fungus, largely because organisms which are regarded as fungi are very variable in form, behavior and life cycle.

Ainsworth (1973) has listed their main characteristics:

1. Nutrition:

 Heterotrophic (photosynthesis lacking)

Absorptive (ingestion rare).

2. Thallus:

Origin from the substratum

unicellular or filamentous (mycelial),,

septate or nonseptate;

3.Cell wall:

typically chitinated (cellulose in oomycetes)

4.Nuclear status:

eukaryotic, multinucleate

the mycelium being homo- or heterokaryotic
haploid, dikaryotic or diploid

5.Life cycle:

simple to complex.

Sexuality: asexual or sexual and homo- or heterothallic


microscopic or macroscopic


ubiquitous as saprobes, symbionts, parastites, or hyperparasites

8. Distribution:

They are cosmopolitan.

There are an estimated 1.5 million fungalspecies of which around 70,000 have been described.

Importance of fungi
Fungi are one of the most important groups of organisms on the planet. They are important in an enormous variety of ways.

Habitat of fungi
Fungi can be found in any habitat in the world, It's range from sea water through to freshwater, in soil, on plants and animals, also on human skin and even growing on microscopic crevices in CD-ROM disks!

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