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Fungi Reproduction

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Fungi Reproduction

How do fungi reproduce? Sexually or asexually?

How about both? That would suggest that fungi can produce both diploid and haploid cells, which they can. Shown above are fungi mycelia and haploid spores. Spores allow fungi to reproduce through unfavorable conditions.

Reproduction of Fungi

The majority of fungi can reproduce both asexually and sexually. This allows them to adjust to conditions in the environment. They can spread quickly through asexual reproduction when conditions are stable. They can increase their genetic variation through sexual reproduction when conditions are changing and variation may help them survive.

Asexual Reproduction

Almost all fungi reproduce asexually by producing spores. A fungal spore is a haploid cell produced by mitosis from a haploid parent cell. It is genetically identical to the parent cell. Fungal spores can develop into new haploid individuals without being fertilized.

Spores may be dispersed by moving water, wind, or other organisms. Some fungi even have “cannons” that “shoot” the spores far from the parent organism. This helps to ensure that the offspring will not have to compete with the parent for space or other resources. You are probably familiar with puffballs, like the one in Figure below . They release a cloud of spores when knocked or stepped on. Wherever the spores happen to land, they do not germinate until conditions are favorable for growth. Then they develop into new hyphae .

Puffballs release spores when disturbed.

Yeasts do not produce spores. Instead, they reproduce asexually by budding. Budding is the pinching off of an offspring from the parent cell. The offspring cell is genetically identical to the parent. Budding in yeast is pictured in Figure below .

Yeast reproduce asexually by budding.

Sexual Reproduction

Sexual reproduction also occurs in virtually all fungi. This involves mating between two haploid hyphae. During mating, two haploid parent cells fuse, forming a diploid spore called a zygospore . The zygospore is genetically different from the parents. After the zygospore germinates, it can undergo meiosis, forming haploid cells that develop into new hyphae.


  • The majority of fungi can reproduce both asexually and sexually. This allows them to adjust to conditions in the environment.
  • Yeast reproduce asexually by budding. Other fungi reproduce asexually by producing spores.
  • Sexual reproduction occurs when spores from two parents fuse and form a zygospore.


Use this resource to answer the questions that follow.

  1. How do most fungi disperse their offspring?
  2. When do fungi reproduce asexually?
  3. Using an illustration, explain sexual reproduction in fungi.
  4. What is a mating type?
  5. What is the dikaryotic stage?


1. Identify ways that fungal spores may be dispersed.

2. Compare and contrast a fungal spore and zygospore.

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