Zygomycota Zygomycota

The haploid Zygomycota have coenocytic mycelia - multinucleate hyphae that lack septa - and produce both asexually by sporangia and sexually via the production of zygosporangia.

They contain saprophytic, symbiotic and parasitic members. A familiar example is Rhizopus stolonifer, a "pin-head" mould which may have got to your strawberries before you in the past! Rhizopus spores are abundant in the air and can also cause zygomycosis – an infection of the gastrointestinal tract or skin - in immunocompromised individuals.

Another interesting member of the zygomycota is the genus Pilobolus which grows in cow dung: its sporangiophore uses carotenoid pigments in its subsporangial vesicle to aim directly at the sun; eventually the pressure builds up and forces the sporangia to release the spores, which can reach a distance of two meters, thereby increasing their chances of being consumed by a ruminant and starting the whole cycle again.

Phycomyces blakesleeanus (x400)

Image: Phycomyces blakesleeanus (x400)Phycomyces spp belong to the zygomycota, of the order Mucorales, which are saprotrophs on decaying matter and dung, or pathogens of plants and animals. The Phycomyces genus is well known for exhibiting strong phototropism (see left). This image shows an asexual sporangiospore.
 

 

 

 

Phycomyces blakesleeanus

Image: Phycomyces blakesleeanusIn favourable conditions P. blakesleeanus produces zygospores to facilitate sexual reproduction.

 

 

 

 

 

Phycomyces blakesleeanus

Image: Phycomyces blakesleeanusImage of P. blakesleeanus zygospores. Image taken using a dissection microscope.

 

 

 

 

 

Phycomyces blakesleeanus

Image: Phycomyces blakesleeanusImage of P. blakesleeanus zygospore. Image taken using a dissection microscope.

 

 

 

 

 

Phycomyces blakesleeanus

Image: Phycomyces blakesleeanusImage of P. blakesleeanus zygospore. Image taken using a dissection microscope.

 

 

 

 

 

Phycomyces blakesleeanus (x400)

Image: Phycomyces blakesleeanus (x400)Image of P. blakesleeanus sporangiospore.

 

 

 

 

 

Phycomyces blakesleeanus (x100)

Image: Phycomyces blakesleeanus (x100)P. blakesleeanus hyphae on nutrient medium on glass slide.

 

 

 

 

 

Phycomyces blakesleeanus (x100)

Image: Phycomyces blakesleeanus (x100)P. blakesleeanus hyphae on nutrient medium on glass slide.