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Kingdom Fungi


Fungi are popularly known for molds, molds, yeasts, yeasts, wooden ears, hat truffles and mushrooms (champignon).

It is a very large group, made up of about 200,000 species spread in virtually any type of environment.

The Fungi and their Importance

Ecological

Fungi have a wide variety of ways of life. Can live like saprophageswhen they get their food by decomposing dead organisms; how parasites, when they feed on substances they remove from the living organisms in which they settle, harming it or being able to establish associations mutualistic with other bodies, where both benefit. In addition to these more common ways of life, there are some groups of fungi considered predators that capture small animals and feed on them.

In all the cases mentioned, the fungi release digestive enzymes out of their bodies. These enzymes act immediately on the organic medium in which they settle, degrading it to simple molecules, which are absorbed by the fungus as an aqueous solution.

The fungi saprophages They are responsible for much of the degradation of organic matter, providing nutrient recycling. Together with saprophagous bacteria, they make up the groups of decomposing organisms of great ecological importance. In the decomposition process, the organic matter contained in dead organisms is returned to the environment and can be reused by other organisms.


Fungi rotting the strawberry.

Despite this positive aspect of decomposition, fungi are responsible for the rotting of food, wood used in different types of fabric constructions, causing serious economic damage. Parasitic fungi cause diseases in plants and animals, including humans.

Coffee rust, for example, is a fungal parasitosis; the small black spots indicating leaf necrosis such as soybean illustrated below are due to fungal attack.


Soy leaf with symptoms of asian rust.

In many cases plant parasitic fungi have specialized hyphae - haustoria - that penetrate host cells using the stomata as a gateway to plant structure. From the plant cells they pick up sugars for their food.

Among the fungi mutualistic, there are those that live associated with plant roots forming the mycorrhizae (tamarin = fungus; roots = roots). In these cases the fungi degrade soil materials, absorb these degraded materials and transfer them to the plant, providing healthy growth. The plant, in turn, gives the fungus certain sugars and amino acids it needs to live.

Some plants that naturally form mycorrhizae are tomato, strawberry, apple and grass in general.

Mycorrhizae are also very common in plants typical of environments with soil poor in mineral nutrients, such as cerrados, in Brazilian territory. In these cases, they represent an important factor of adaptation, improving the nutrition conditions of the plant.

Certain groups of fungi may establish mutualistic associations with cyanobacteria or green algae, giving rise to organisms called lichens. These will be discussed later.

Economical

Many fungi are aerobic, that is, they perform respiration, but some are anaerobic and perform fermentation.

Of these, some are used in the process of alcoholic beverage manufacturinglike beer and wine, and in the process of preparing bread. In these processes, the fungus used belongs to the species Saccharomyces cerevisiae, capable of transforming sugar into ethyl alcohol and CO2 (alcoholic fermentation) in the absence of O2. In the presence of O2 perform the breath. They are therefore called facultative anaerobes.

In the manufacture of alcoholic beverages the important is the alcohol produced in the fermentation, while in the preparation of bread, is the CO2. In the latter case, the CO2 that is formed accumulates inside the dough, causing small bubbles that make the bread porous and lighter.

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The imprisonment of CO2 In dough it is only possible due to the high gluten content in wheat flour, which gives the bread "alloy". Breads made with low-gluten flour do not grow as much as those made with gluten-rich flour.

Just before baking, the alcohol content of bread reaches 0.5%; when baking, this alcohol evaporates, giving the bread a pleasant aroma.

Some fungi are used in the dairy industry, such as Penicillium camemberti It's from Penicillium roqueforte, employed in the manufacture of Camembert and Roquefort cheeses, respectively.


Camembert


Roquefort

Some fungal species are used directly as food by man. is the case of Morchella and kind Agaricus brunnescens, the popular mushroom or champignon, one of the most widely grown in the world.


Morchella


Agaricus