Chapter 9: Continuing the diversity theme: cell and tissue differentiation

Wikipedia points out that ‘biodiversity’ is a new portmanteau word made up from ‘biology’ and ‘diversity’ that probably arrived in the English language in 1985. Wikipedia defines ‘biodiversity’ as ‘the variation of taxonomic life forms within a given ecosystem, biome or for the entire Earth. Biodiversity is often used as a measure of the health of biological systems’ (see: As an aside to this Wikipedia definition of biodiversity: given the fact that in the fossil record fungal biodiversity greatly increases during major extinction events (CLICK HERE for a reminder of the earlier discussion) we are not convinced that fungal biodiversity is a good measure of the health of non-fungal biological systems!

In this Chapter we will explain the meaning of the word ‘diversity’ in the context of the fungi, and then deal with its different aspects as they bear upon cells and tissues: mycelial differentiation and the different ways that fungi use for making spores. We describe Aspergillus conidiophores in some detail because something is known about the molecular regulation of Aspergillus sporulation. This is then compared with conidiation in Neurospora and other fungi. Finally, we make some general points about the nature and construction of fungal tissues and organs by describing conidiomata, and then linear structures like strands, cords, rhizomorphs and stipes; finishing off with the globose structures called sclerotia, stromata, ascomata and basidiomata.

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Updated July, 2019