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chytrid

(pl. chytrids)





The chytrids are interesting, complicated (hence the lack of more information here, at the moment), and little-understood (like I said) fungi. They can be isolated from almost any substrate (especially soil and feces), but are never seen without culturing the substrate for them, as they never get big enough to be seen with the naked eye.

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Image of Chytridiomycota from Christian Gottfried Daniel Nees von Esenbeck & A. C. F. Henry (1837) Das System der Pilze: part one
Chytridiomycota
The entire organism consists of a small mycelium with a large (by microscopic standards) central sporophore. This gives them sort of an octopus shape. Eventually the central sporophore breaks open and the spores, which are self-propelling, with the aid of a flagellum, swim away to form new chytrids. The exclusion of the Oomycetes from the fungi makes the Chytrids the only remaining fungi with self-propelling spores.

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Chytrids are an important component of bovine gut flora, helping them to break down the cellulose in their food. The also occupy a variety of parasitic niches, and are currently implicated in the world-wide die-off of amphibians. Undoubtedly, the vast majority of chytrids remain undiscovered, and their roles in the ecosystem likewise remain unknown. For more information, see the UCMP Chytrid page, or search for " chytrid" on the web.

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