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6.9: Fungi Structure

Difficulty Level: Basic / At Grade Created by: CK-12
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What, exactly, is a mushroom?

Mushrooms aren't around just so you can put them on your pizza. The mushroom is part of a large fungus that lives underground. The mushroom develops above the ground when the fungus is ready to reproduce.

Body Parts of Fungi

The most important body parts of fungi include:

  1. Cell wall: A layer around the cell membrane of fungi cells, similar to that found in plant cells.
  2. Hyphae: These are thread-like strands which interconnect and bunch up into a mycelium (Figure below). Ever see mold on a damp wall or on old bread? The things that you are seeing are really mycelia. The hyphae and mycelia help the fungi absorb nutrients from other organisms.
  3. Specialized structures for reproduction: One example is a fruiting body. A mushroom is a fruiting body, which is the part of the fungus that produces spores (Figure below). The spores are the basic reproductive units of fungi.

Hyphae of a Penicillium mold. The little “trees” are specialized hyphae on which spores are produced.

A mushroom is a fruiting body.


  • fruiting body: Specialized structures for reproduction in fungi.
  • hyphae: Thread-like strands that make up the body of a fungus.
  • mycelium: Body of a fungus; consists of a mass of thread-like strands called hyphae.


  • Fungi have a cell wall.
  • The fungal body consists of thread-like structures called hyphae, which can bunch up into a mycelium.
  • Fungi often make specialized reproductive structures, such as a mushroom.


Use the resources below to answer the questions that follow.

  1. What are fruiting bodes?
  2. How fast can a mycelium grow?
  3. What is the function of mushrooms from the fungi point of view?
  1. What is the fungal body made up of?
  2. Why is the fungal mycelium usually hidden from view?
  3. What part of a fungus is usually most visible?


  1. What makes up the main "body" of the fungus?
  2. What is the purpose of a mushroom?

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Date Created:

Nov 29, 2012

Last Modified:

Apr 11, 2014
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