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an order of lower fungi of the class Phycomycetes. The fungi have a noncellular multinucleate developed mycelium. The organs of asexual reproduction are sporangia with several thousand aplanospores; in some cases each sporangium functions as a conidium. Sexual reproduction is by zygogamy: zygospores are formed by the merging of the branches of a single mycelium (homothallic species) or of different mycelia (heterothallic species).
According to different classification systems, the order includes from six to eight families, embracing approximately 250 species. The majority of the fungi are saprophytes, which live on organic substrates. Some parasitize other species of Mucorales, higher fungi, fruits, seeds, and other parts of plants and cause a number of diseases. For example, Rhizopus nigricans is the causative agent of dry rot in the sunflower heads, and R. maydis causes gray mold of corncobs. Mucorales may be pathogenic to animals and man. Some species, known as mucor yeasts, are capable of reproducing by budding and causing fermentation; they are sometimes used in the preparation of alcoholic beverages.
M. A. BONDARTSEVA