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A heterogeneous group of anamorphic (asexual or imperfect) fungi in which sporulation may occur on separate hyphae or composite fruit bodies (conidiomata). The diagnostic feature of the group is the lack of a teleomorphic (sexual or perfect) state. There are more than 2500 accepted genera containing 21,000 species.
Traditionally, Deuteromycotina are separated into two classes: Hyphomycetes, which are mycelial forms bearing conidia on separate hyphae or aggregations of hyphae; and Coelomycetes, which are forms that produce conidia in pycnidial, pycnothyrial, acervular, cupulate, or stromatic conidiomata. A third class is sometimes recognized, the Agonomycetes (Mycelia Sterilia); these fail to produce conidia and thus lack conidiomata, although they do form somatic survival propagules. Currently, no ranks are distinguished within the Deuteromycotina, and the subdivisional name itself is no longer in use, the preferred term being Mitotic Fungi or Fungi Anamorphici. See Agonomycetes, Coelomycetes, Hyphomycetes
Deuteromycetes are ubiquitous and occupy most conceivable ecological niches. Deuteromycetes such as Penicillium, Aspergillus, and Saccharomyces have been used extensively in manufacturing processes of different kinds. Increasingly important is the use of deuteromycetes in biological control of insects, nematodes, pathogenic fungi, and weeds.
Fungal infections (mycoses) are almost always the result of abnormal host immunity. Even before the association of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) with acquired immunedeficiency syndrome (AIDS), criteria used in defining the syndrome relied heavily on the existence of certain opportunistic infections in the absence of any of the established predisposing conditions. A significant number of these deep-seated infections are caused by deuteromycetes such as Aspergillus, Candida, Cryptococcus, and Histoplasma. See Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), Medical mycology, Mycotoxin, Opportunistic infections