Club Fungi (Basidiomycota)

Club fungi− also known as basidiomycota− is an extremely unique branch of fungus. Having 30,000 species, basidiomycota forms 37% of the fungus kingdom. Since there are so many species of club fungi there isn’t a single, constant characteristic they all share except for their production of basidia. Basidia are the reproductive spores of club fungi. In addition, club fungi receives its name from the club shaped basidia.

This pictureshows the basidiospores coming out from the basidi or basidium.
This pictureshows the basidiospores coming out from the basidi or basidium.


Club fungi can be found almost anywhere; in a forest, a garden, a backyard, an aquatic area, and even in feet. Also, it must be noted that just because the fungi is not visible, it does not mean it is not there. In fact, the conditions for the fungi to grow have to be so precise that in some cases they spend years and years growing underground before coming to the surface.The area must have the right amount of light and moisture in order for fungi such as mushrooms, puffballs, stinkhorns, etc. to emerge from underground.


Club fungi may be unicellular, single celled, or multi cellular, meaning they have specialized cells. As a matter of fact, club fungi are very broad; they could be asexual− without the need of specified sexual organs to reproduce− or sexual, and they could be earthly or aquatic.

Sexual Reproduction:
  • As mentioned before, the conditions for club fungi to rise above ground level are very precise, and so are the conditions for the fungi’s reproduction to take place. Once the environment has the right conditions, the fungi send “reproductive structures” through their mycelium that rise to the surface. The mycelium is the fungi’s “body,” or stem, and it is made out of thread-like structures known as hyphae. Then, the basidia– cells located in extensions of the fungi’s head (ex: in the mushroom’s cap) – produce basidiospores which are what fungi use to sexually reproduce. In a way, the basidiospores of a fungi function as the eggs and sperms in humans. Afterward, a process known as meiosis takes place in which the fungi’s DNA (the genetic material) is completely split in half. In that manner, some reproductive cells contain only half the DNA while the others contain the rest thus causing them to search for each other in order to be complete. In addition, the original fungi also have two nuclei but just as each basidiospore receives only half the DNA, they also get only one nucleus. Once two compatible basidiospores combine, they will form what is known as a dikaryotic organism, an organism containing two nuclei. This new fungi will eventually repeat the process.

This picture depicts the average life cycle of a mushroom(including sexual reproduction).
This picture depicts the average life cycle of a mushroom(including sexual reproduction).

Asexual Reproduction:
  • Although rare, asexual reproduction does take place in club fungi. Asexual reproduction is a very different process from sexual reproduction . For asexual reproduction to take place the fungi must contain special hyphae known as conidiophores. These conidiophores produce an asexual spore called conidia. To begin with, the conidiophores split into two separate structures. Subsequently, those two, newly divided, branches of the conidiophores will develop “arm like” structures. From then on, the structures begin to produce the cell conidia. Afterward, the conidia simply multiplies until an entirely new fungus has developed.

This is a picture of hyphae going through asexual reproduction.The small balls at the tips are the conidia.
This is a picture of hyphae going through asexual reproduction.The small balls at the tips are the conidia.
This picture shows a real life example of a hyphae.
This picture shows a real life example of a hyphae.


Basidiomycota is not only broad and diverse, it also has many uses; both good and bad. They can be used to flavor cheeses, make certain medicines and drugs, bread rise, alcohol, soy products, recycle organic matter, make paper, or as religious material. Also, several club fungi are edible. Nevertheless, some club fungi are harmful therefore, caution is advised when selecting what fungi to eat. Harmful fungi can cause poisoning, death, disease, allergies, and food spoilage. In addition, they may destroy leather, plastics, and fabrics.


Additionally, club fungi contribute greatly to the environment. To begin with, club fungi decompose dead organic material which provides plants with the essential compounds they need to carry on their life process. Must it be reminded that plants are the sole base of life and that without their energy-producing system life on Earth would be impossible therefore, if plants require fungi’s help to function then, fungi are also extremely crucial to maintenance of life on Earth. Secondly, a certain specie of basidiomycota decomposes wood, thus contributing to the carbon cycle.


Basidiomycota is often confused, or associated with plants because of minimal similarities such as having single celled organisms surrounded by cell walls. However, plants and fungi are extremely different. First of all, club fungi are not only unicellular, in fact, several types of club fungi that are multi cellular. Furthermore, plants contain chlorophyll which makes them notably green, but fungi do not. Also, plants are autotrophs while fungi are heterotrophs. As a matter of fact, it has been scientifically proven that if fungi were to be placed in a kingdom other than their own ( the Fungus Kingdom), they would be placed in the Animal Kingdom rather than the Plant Kingdom given fungi share more biological similarities with animals than with plants. These similarities insinuate that fungi and animals derive from a common ancestor on the contrary of plants.


Basidiomycota makes up over one third of the entire Fungus Kingdom. For that reason, it is consider a phylum, or a subdivision of the fungus kingdom. This phylum is broken down into four main categories; gill fungi, pore fungi, stinkhorn, and jelly fungi. Gill fungi, such as mushrooms, have gills underneath their caps were spores are produced, and the mycelium located in the center. On the contrary, pore fungi’s spores are found in their pores, yet they also have a center-placed mycelium. Stinkhorns are carrot-shaped with a greenish-brown top that has an unpleasing odor. Additionally, the top is made of basidia and basidiospores. Flies often confuse the fungus for animal excrement due to the bad smell. Fortunately for the fungus, this confusion helps spread their spores to other areas since flies carry the spores with them as they fly. Lastly, the jelly fungi are a very interesting branch of club fungi. They have no definite shape and come in several colors, including: white, orange, pink, brown, and black. Jelly fungi grow in logs, twigs, and tree stumps and most of them are edible.

Another type of club fungi is the tinea pedis, or as most refer to it; athlete’s foot. Athlete’s foot is caused by a ringworm, yet it is classified as a fungi. Athlete’s foot is not a different branch of club fungi. In fact, it is placed in the same family as molds, yeasts, and mushrooms. The fungus is a highly contagious disease that can be spread by contact. The symptoms of athlete’s foot include cracking, bleeding, or peeling of toe skin. Athlete's foot may also cause burning, itching, rashes, and it may get irritated when touched.

With an impressive biodiversity, a unique reproduction system, and crucial environmental deeds, club fungi leaves many wondering; what else is there to learn about these fascinating organisms?

Camila Machado & Alexia Lacayo


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Sponges are marine invertebrates pertaining to the phylum Porifera of the kingdom Animalia. Their irregular, invertebrate bodies are covered in pores which water flows through. There are about fiv
Tube Sponge
e-thousand known species of sponges, some of which include; the tube sponge, the vase sponge, the yellow sponge, the red tree sponge, the common sea squirt, and the painted tunicate. What unites all sponges is that they are all
asymmetrical, or having no front or back. The skeleton of harder sponges is formed by spicules, a “spike-shaped structure made of chalklike calcium carbonate or glasslike silica”. These spicules are composed by cells that move around the sponge’s walls, or archaeocytes.


Like most invertebrates, sponges are multicellular organisms. Multicellularmeans that the organisms’ cells are
specialized and perform different functions. What differentiates sponges from other invertebrates is that cells of the same specialization do not form tissues, or muscle. Additionally, the bodies of the sponges are basically an accumulation of different specialized cells.


Sponges are very common all over the world given there are 5000 species of it. Although the majority of these species live in saltwater bodies, there are about 150 species that can live in fresh water. As a result, they can be found in almost any body of water.


Since sponges are sessile- unable to move on their own and forever attached to a surface-, water is extremely important to them. Water provides sponges with their source of nutrition and oxygen. In addition, when the water passes through the pores of the sponges, it carries out the sponges’ waste products. However, this does not mean that sponges simply eat water. The reason why water is the main source of nutrition of sponges is because it carries tiny organisms such as planktons into the sponges’ pores. For this reason, sponges are considered “filter feeders”. The movement of water into the sponge is due to sponges’ specialized cells known as choanocytes which contain flagella that help the water move inward. When getting the water out, however, the sponge expulses it through a large hole at the top of the sponge known as the osculum. Also, sponges can control the amount of water that flows in and out of their bodies by closing and opening their pores. This action of moving the water in and out of the sponge forms the simple system of the sponge’s circulation.


As previously mentioned, sponges take a permanent residence in the surface in which they decide to attach themselves to. This causes competition to rise between the different sponges and corals. Therefore, some sponges like the Fire sponge, have the ability to release toxins in order to repel their enemies.

The toxins are released into the water and remain in the surface of the sponges thus anybody who comes in contact with them could be affected by these to
Fire Sponge
xins. Skin injuries such as rashes are the result of these toxins when coming in contact with humans. The symptoms are; swelling, redness, itching, tingling, pain, and even nausea or fainting . Luckily the treatment for these injuries is very simple. First, the infected person would need to apply vinegar in the infected area for about fifteen minutes. If the person has no vinegar then they should use urine, preferably from a male given as female urine is more prone to bacteria. Secondly, the person should use a clean cloth to dry the area. Subsequently, the area should be covered in a sticky material such as tape in order to remove any particles of the sponge that might have been left behind. After taking off the tape, soak the area in vinegar or urine once again for about five minutes. If there are no changes then, the alternative would be to apply over the counter creams.


  • Sponges can reproduce sexually or asexually. Some sponges are gendered, meaning that they could be either male or female. The male sponges produces sperm and the female sponges produces eggs. On the other hand, some sponges can produce both sperms and eggs. In sexual reproduction there must be unison between the sperm and the egg. In sponges this unison takes place when the male sponge releases sperm which goes into the female sponge’s egg and is fertilized. In most cases the egg becomes larvae that grows inside the female sponge and is later born through the mother’s “water-exit” pore. This larvae swim around for a few days before permanently attaching to a surface and becoming an adult sponge. Other times, however, once the sperm and the egg have united, the egg is disposed to hatch outside the mother’s body.

Asexually, the process of reproduction is very different. Asexual reproduction in a sponge can take place two ways. For one, a piece of an adult sponge’s body falls off into the ocean floor and then develops into a new sponge. This could happen in sponges of either sex. Secondly, another form of asexual reproduction in sponges is when buds develop in the parent sponge and then detach themselves when they are the appropriate size to live on their own. Due to their simplicity in asexual reproduction, sponges are considered to be one of the most efficient in this type of reproduction . When these “baby sponges” are faced with tough environmental conditions they develop gammules. Gammules are groups of archaeocytes covered in spicules.


Sponges received from Sponge Diving

The cleaning sponges found in the kitchens of most households are often confused with sea sponges. However, this new cleaning material is actually a replacement of sea sponges. Before the cheaper, more practical substitute arrived sea sponges were used for washing dishes and such. In some rare cases were the normal cleaning sponges do not suffice, sea sponges are still used. Furthermore, sea sponges are used as diving entertainment. As a matter of fact, there is such thing as “sponge-diving” in which divers gather the sponges as a hobby.


Sponges are currently being researched by scientist as they believe certain species of sponges are potential drugs for the cure of deadly diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. Some sponges even have “anti-cancer properties”. As if it weren’t enough, the more scientists research these organisms the more promises they discover. In fact, according to archeologists, sponges appear to have not undergone any changes for over five-hundred million years and they will probably remain on the waters of Earth long after human extinction.
Camila Machado & Alexia Lacayo


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