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Fungi

Deuteromycota, Imperfect Fungi

The Deuteromycota is a heterogeneous group of unrelated species in which sexual reproduction has never been observed. Since mycologists refer to the "perfect phase" of a life cycle as the phase in which sexual reproduction occurs, these fungi are often referred to as imperfect fungi. These fungi may have lost their sexual phase through the course of evolution. Alternatively, biologists simply may not have found the appropriate environmental conditions to observe development of the sexual phase of their life cycle.

The Deuteromycota are classified as fungi for two main reasons. First, their multicellular tissue is similar to the hyphae of sac fungi and club fungi. Second, they have erect hyphae with asexual spores, called conidiophores, which are similar to those of the sac fungi and club fungi.

Most imperfect fungi are believed to be related to the sac fungi because their conidiophores closely resemble those produced by the sac fungi during their sexual phase. The imperfect fungi are not placed in the Ascomycota phylum because classification of that group is based on the morphology of sexual structures which the Deuteromycota do not have.

The best known fungus in this phylum is Penicillium. Some species in this genus appear as pathogenic, blue-green molds on fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. Several other species are important for the making of cheeses, such as blue cheese, Roquefort, and Camembert. Certainly the best known product from this genus is penicillin, the first widely-used antibiotic. Penicillin was first discovered in Penicillium notatum over 50 years ago, but is now known to be produced by many other species in this genus.


Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Formate to GastropodaFungi - General Characteristics, Nutrition And Ecology, Evolution, Classification, Zygomycota, Conjugating Fungi, Ascomycota, Sac Fungi