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Basidiomycetes: World's Most Common Fungi

by Kristina Kaye Maglabe

Basidiomycetes are the most common fungi in the world. They make for one third of the fungi that is identified by scientists. It is so common that there are more than 30,000 species named. Fungus is the most common living organism around, more than bacteria, viruses or humans.

These fungi are heterotrophs. This means that they cannot process carbon in their system. They also live off of other living organisms to survive. Some live off of dead organisms as well, like wood and foliage litter. Wood on structures is not pest free in a Basidiomycetes point of view. Most building structures that are made of wood are vulnerable if not treated first hand. Others become parasitic that they destroy the host organism in the process.

These are fungus that generates spores on a pedestal like structure. It can be identified with sores or gills. The most common of them are mushrooms and bracket fungi. These fungi yield spores on a Basidia, specialized cell. Since these spores are airborne, they can spread fast and reproduce faster. Most spores travel hundreds and thousands of miles away from the originating fungi. This is the reason why most fungi species are found all over the world.

Basidiomycetes can be sexual or asexual. They can also be unicellular or multi – cellular. They can live on land as well as on water. They have a wide variety of characteristics that focusing on one will deprive the others. To identify these, basidia should be present. The basidia are responsible for producing sexual spores.

They can be fruiting bodies like the puffballs or as poisonous as the amanitas. The honey mushroom, Armillaria ostoyae is the largest living fungi in the world. It 2,400 years old and its mycelium, the root or vegetative part of the fungus, stretched up to 2,200 acres underground.

Agaricales is a group of Basidiomycetes that produce spores on a gill like structure. They are commonly classified as Gilled Mushrooms. Aphylophorales on the other hand does not bring forth spores. It can be identified as having a Hymenium that is smooth but wrinkled teeth like structures. They can also be like tubes packed together.

These fungi can be found in several culinary and gourmet dishes as well. The most common is the button mushroom and the Shitake mushroom. It can also be destructive to humans especially ones with AIDS. Cryptococcus neoformans is specie that can lessen the immune response of the patient. Fungi commonly known as corn smut can destroy live off and destroy the corn yield. Their spores are mostly airborne and are the most common cause for allergies. Smuts can also affect wheat, oats and rye. Rusts affects most herbs and plants. They reduce the development of the plant immensely.

Some mushrooms can be used for cooking. They can be used for soups, stews and sauces. Always remember that you should never eat a fungi that is not properly known, lest be poisoned. Remember that these Basidiomycetes can be destructive as well as productive in our everyday life. The key is what variety should be taken into consideration.