The 11 types of mushrooms (and their characteristics)

When we think of living things, most people tend to immediately think of animals and plants. This is a logical thing because these are two of the types of living things that we can directly most often. But the truth is that the animal and plant kingdoms are not the only ones that exist: there is also the monera kingdom (to which bacteria belong), the protist or protoctist (in which we find various protozoa) and the fungal kingdom.

As for the latter kingdom, the first image that usually comes to mind is that of a mushroom, but the truth is that there are a large number of types of mushrooms (Not in vain, we are faced with one of the five great groups of living beings). In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best known.

    What is a mushroom?

    We call the exponent of a fungus one of the five extant kingdoms of living things, Which is characterized by being made up of eukaryotic cells (that is, they have a nucleus in which DNA is found) with a cell wall composed mainly of chitin and its mode of feeding, absorption but heterotrophic.

    This last term, that of heterotroph, tells us that fungi, like animals, depend on the transformation of external organic matter into energy in order to survive. In other words, it must consume matter or belonging to other living beings.

    In fact, in this sense, mushrooms they are very important ecologically since these beings are considered as one of the main decomposers of dead matter, being their fundamental contribution to the maintenance of the ecosystem.

    The fungus is certainly an extended kingdom, with a great variety of species and varieties. That is why there are a variety of possible classifications into which they can be divided these forms of life, among which we will see several.

    1. Types of mushrooms according to their basic shapes

    One of the quickest and easiest classifications to do is related to the fact that, as a rule, we can find three main forms. It is a very simple classification which leaves aside the enormous diversity that one can find, but which is effective. In this sense, we can find three main types.

    1.1. mushrooms

    It is the most prototypical type of mushroom for most people. In reality, the term does not refer so much to the being as a whole as to one of its parts: the outermost part, corresponding to its fructification and which usually shaped like an umbrella or hat.

    The rest of the fungus would be underground (or below the surface it grows on). So, technically we could differentiate between fungus and fungus in the sense that the fungus is only part of a certain type of fungus. It is important to keep in mind that not all are edibleMany species can be poisonous and even fatal to us.

    1.2. yeasts

    Fungi classified in the yeast group are characterized by the way in which they break down matter, this mechanism being fermentation (although not only fungi can use it).

    Carbohydrates and sugars are transformed into other elements, something that humans have used for millennia. in processes such as bread making or confectionery. They are also characterized by the fact that they are a type of single-celled fungus.

    1.3. Mold

    Mold is a type of fungus usually microscopic in size that is characterized by generally destructive behavior, damaging surfaces or living things. They are generally made up of masses of filaments. however that does not mean that they are always negativeSince then, in some cases, they have been able to generate drugs from them (the clearest example being penicillin).

    2. Classification according to its effect on humans

    Another simple way to classify mushrooms has not so much to do with the fungus itself, but with the effects it can have on us or the usefulness we can give to them. If in this sense the classification is not so much for the entity itself as for its effects, this way of cataloging them can be beneficial in order to be able to separate those with positive effects from those with negative effects. Among these types we can find the following.

    2.1. groceries

    One of the groups that generally interests the majority of the population is the edible mushrooms, those suitable for human (or animal) consumption. Most of them are in very good health, Having few calories and lots of proteins and vitamins. In fact, some of them are considered delicacies, as is the case with truffles in this country.

    2.2. Toxic

    Contrary to the above, we can also find different fungi whose properties can deteriorate our health and abilities to a great extent, and in some cases even lead to death. Unfortunately, some of them look like edible species, which poses a huge danger for those who are not able to recognize them.

    2.3. medicinal

    Many fungi have different properties which have made them very important to humans not only to be edible or inedible, but to be able to produce effects that eliminate or control disease. This is what happened when Alexander Fleming discovered that Penicillium mold he was able to kill the bacteria, Which allowed him to eventually synthesize penicillin.

    2.4. parasites

    Some fungi also have parasitic behavior, feeding on living tissue.

    This is the type of fungus that generally causes us diseases, often dermatological but it can also occur in other tissues such as the mouth or vagina and even lead to severe infections. Fungi of the candida family are one example.

    Another example is the fungus of the genus Cordyceps, some species of which can lead to suicidal behavior in insects such as ants (causing them to climb on the leaves of a plant and bite it before dying to serve as food and allow propagation. spores).

    2.5. Hallucinogens or psychoactive

    Many mushrooms have been used since ancient times for their ability to generate altered states of consciousness. In some contexts they were used in religious rituals, Although at present, consumption of hallucinogenic mushrooms is more common in a recreational setting.

    But not only that, but in many cases fungi with these properties are being studied in order to analyze possible uses in the treatment of mental or even organic disorders.

    In this type of mushroom is distinguished the genus of mushrooms Psilocybe, the representatives contain psychoactive substances such as psilocybin, one of the most widely used hallucinogenic drugs.

      3. Ecological classification

      Another way to classify different fungi is their way of surviving and feeding, their function or role on an ecological level. in relation to their connection with other beings. In this sense, we can find three major groups.

      3. 1. Saprophytic fungi

      This type of fungus is characterized by basing its subsistence on the fact of feeding on the remains of living beings by external digestion, carried out outside the cells of the fungus. It is one of the most relevant groups when it comes to breaking down organic matter in corpses and feces and when it comes to allow the soil to remain fertile.

      Some of them only receive nutrients in this way, while other fungi only use this type of nutrition during a phase of their development.

      3.2. mushrooms parasites

      As we saw above, parasitic fungi are those that they base their livelihood on dependence on a host or transporter, Which may be less or more harmed by the existence of its host and for which the existence of the fungus does not imply any advantage.

      3.3. symbiotic fungi

      These types of fungi are characterized by being dependent on a subject or entity that hosts them, although the relationship with them is positive and beneficial for both organisms. For example, it is possible that the interaction between the two allows the two beings to feed. In this type of fungus we can find different subtypes.

      Perhaps the best known and most common case is that of mycorrhizae, in which a fungus establishes a symbiotic relationship with the roots of a plant. While the fungus is nourished by carbohydrates and vitamins from the plant, the plant derives minerals and water from them.

      Another well-known example is lichens, born from the symbiotic interaction between a fungus and an algae. In this relationship, the fungus serves as a protection for the algae that prevents environmental conditions and sunlight from drying out the algae, while it performs photosynthesis, and the fungus survives on the energy supply from it.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Hawksworth DL; Lücking, R. (2017). Fungal diversity revised: 2.2 to 3.8 million species. The kingdom of mushrooms. Microbiology Spectrum, 5: pages 79-95.
      • Kurtzman CP (1994). Molecular taxonomy of yeast, yeast, 10 (13): pages 1727-1740.
      • Linder MB; Szilvay GR; Nakari-Setälä T .; Penttilä ME (2005). Hydrophobins: amphiphilic proteins of filamentous fungi. FEMS microbiological examinations, 29 (5): pages 877 to 896.

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