Parasitic Fungi

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Parasitic Fungi


or pathogenic fungi, fungi that use as a source of food live tissues of various organisms. Parasitic fungi cause diseases in plants, animals, and humans.

Many parasitic fungi are members of the class Fungi imperfecti, since they reproduce only asexually. The body of a parasitic fungus consists of branching multicellular filaments (hyphae) of the mycelium. Parasitic fungi form spores of various sizes and shapes. Obligate parasitic fungi feed only at the expense of live tissues, and, as a rule, do not grow in artificial nutritional media. Among the facultative parasitic fungi, some feed predominantly on organic substances of decaying tissues (saprophytes) but can also parasitize live tissues; other saprophytes are usually parasitic but can also grow on dead tissue.

There are parasitic fungi that live on animals and are called zoopathogenic fungi, which include entomopathogenic fungi, which live on insects. Parasitic fungi that live on plants are called phytopathogenic fungi and include mycophthorous fungi—that is, those that live on mushrooms. Phytopathogenic fungi are the most common. They act by means of toxic secretions or enzymes, which damage plant tissue, and then use these tissues as food. Many of the phytopathogenic fungi attack economically valuable plants. For example, various rust fungi cause stem rust and brown rust of grasses (Puccinia graminis, P. triticina), sunflower rust (P. helianthi), and flax rust (Melampsora lini); smut fungi cause durum and powdery wheat smut (Tilletia tritici, Ustilago tritici); and powdery mildew fungi cause powdery mildew of grasses (Erysiphe graminis). Parasitic fungi cause apple scab (Venturia inaequales), grape mildew (Plasmopara vitícola), and many other diseases. There is a large well-known group of wood-destroying fungi that grows on living trees (various species of Polyporaceae and honey fungus), as well as on commercial wood and wooden parts of buildings (house fungi). Fungous plant parasites are combated by means of special agricultural techniques, the production of hardy varieties, and the application of chemical substances (disinfection of seeds, spraying of plants, etc.). Mycophthorous fungi parasitize the fruit bodies and mycelia of many other fungi.

Zoopathogenic fungi include those that cause ringworm, favus, and other diseases of the skin of mammals and humans. Malassezia furfur causes furfur, and fungi from the genus Epidermophyton cause epidermophytosis of the feet and groin. Parasitic fungi from the genera Candida and Geo-trichum cause mycoses of the mucous membranes, skin, nails, and other areas. Parasitic fungi from the genera Blastomyces, Sporotrichum, and Aspergillus attack not only the skin but also subcutaneous cell tissues, muscles, bones, and the internal organs of animals and humans. Under certain conditions (for example, when the natural bacterial flora in the human organism are suppressed by excessive use of antibiotics) some parasitic fungi can cause a systemic disease in the organism, for instance, candidiasis.

Entomopathogenic fungi are used for exterminating harmful insects. The best known are Empusa muscae, a parasite of house flies; E. grilly, a parasite of locusts; and Beauveria bassiana, which parasitizes many insect species.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
We must pay attention that this prediction was based only on plant parasitic fungi, and did not take into account other ecological groups of fungi such as saprotrophs or something else [4,27].
Both obligate parasitic fungi and opportunistic pathogens cause these diseases.
It began in 2000 and involved collecting, cataloging and analyzing samples of parasitic fungi called Escovopsis from dozens of colonies of leaf-cutter ants and their relatives in Brazil, Argentina, Panama, Mexico and the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Trinidad and Tobago.
Asexual reproduction as a success model seems to be characteristic of many parasitic fungi, including those that afflict humans, such as athlete's foot.
With that said, you'll never understand the role of proper diet in cancer without a general understanding of the diet that parasitic fungi must eat.
There is also much to say for organic farming as it is well known that pesticides and parasitic fungi have worsened the decline of the vital honeybee.
Specific topics include slow-down of oceanic carbon dioxide uptake in response to global warming, mycosporine-like amino acids in phytoplankton, the impact of parasitic fungi on the diversity and functional ecology of marine phytoplankton, and bio-mitigation and biofuel production using microalgae.
These are two types of parasitic fungi and one type of parasitic nematode, or roundworm.
Possibilities for biological control of beet cyst nematode with parasitic fungi. In Aspects of Applied Biology, Vol.
Life-forms such as the flying colugo, red crab spiders, blue birds of paradise and the parasitic fungi cordyceps, which have developed unique survival abilities, are also observed.