Parts of a Fungus

Parts of a Fungus
••• Image by, courtesy of B Balaji

Fungi are unique organisms with body structures and reproductive modes unlike those of any other organism. Mushrooms, mold and certain parasites are all fungi. The key features of a fungal body are the mycelium (made up of hyphae), the fruiting body and the spores.


Many fungi look like plants, but fungi are heterotrophs, like animals. A fungus must digest food to live, while plants are autotrophs that make their own food through photosynthesis.


A fungal mycelium is a network of threadlike filaments called hyphae. The mycelium obtains nutrients (usually from decaying organic matter) and produces the fruiting body. Often the bulk of the mycelium will be underground. According to the 2009 text “Biology: Concepts and Connections,” the mycelium of one giant fungus growing in Oregon covers more than 2,200 acres of forest.

Fruiting Body

The fruiting body of a fungus is a reproductive structure. A mushroom is a typical fungal fruiting body, attached to a mycelium underground. A fruiting body produces spores.


Spores are involved in fungal reproduction. Released by the fruiting body, fungal spores are haploid, meaning they carry only one chromosome for each gene (like human gametes). Spores can germinate when they strike damp soil.


Unlike animals, fungi don’t digest food internally. Instead, they secrete digestive enzymes so that their food is “digested” outside their bodies. A fungus then acquires its nutrients by absorption of the digested food through the mycelium.

Related Articles

Three Main Parts of a Seed
What Is the Diploid Number?
What Types of Bacteria Produce Endospores?
What Part of the Plant Makes Seeds?
How Do Mushrooms Reproduce?
Facts on Bread Mold
How Are Photosynthesis & Cellular Respiration Related?
Septate vs. Non-Septate Hyphae
What Is a Tetrad in Microbiology?
What Is It Called When Bacteria Divide Into Two Cells?
Types of Desert Fungi
What Are Mycelia in Microbiology?
What Types of Cells Are Bacteria?
How Do Plants With Spores Reproduce?
What Are the Functions of Photosynthesis?
What Are the Ways to Identify Organisms?
What Will Happen If You Are Exposed to Mushroom Spores?
What Kind of Environment Do Fungi Like?