Fungi and their Kingdoms

Fungi and their Kingdoms poster

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Fungi are very diverse. Species range from simple, single-celled organisms to very complex, multicellular organisms.

The scientific classification of living organisms began in the 18th century. Then only two Kingdoms were recognised—the Plant Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom. Anything that didn’t move was put in the Plant Kingdom, so that’s where fungi were classified. However, fungi are very strange ‘plants’. They cannot make their own food as ‘ordinary’ plants do through the process of photosynthesis.

Now we know fungi do not belong in the Plant Kingdom. In fact, fungi are spread across three Kingdoms: Protoctista, Chromista and Eumycota. There are many levels in the classification of an organism. Kingdom is the highest level and the first step down is Division. This poster describes the major features of each Division.

The Eumycota are often referred to as the ‘true fungi’, but the word ‘fungi’ is commonly used as a collective term for various Divisions from all three Kingdoms.

All fungi release microscopic spores. These come in many forms, but in all cases the spores are either sexual or asexual reproductive units. Fungi in some Divisions produce mobile spores (zoospores) with filamentous asexual appendages called flagella. There are two types of flagellum: a smooth flagellum is called a whiplash flagellum; and, a flagellum where the main stem has fine, hair-like projections is a tinsel flagellum.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2002.

The Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) supports research and publications on the classification, identity, biology and relationships of Australia’s rich biodiversity.

Text: H.Lepp. Background: Original image copyright B.Fuhrer. Printer: Inprint.

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About the poster

Related series: Fungi of Australia
Publisher: Australian Biological Resources Study
Year: 2002

Photographs provided by

  • Bruce Fuhrer
  • Ray and Elma Kearney
  • Heino Lepp
  • Peter McGee
  • NSW National Parks and Wildlife