Fungal hyphae are cylindrical, apically extending, branching cells that are the basic units of the modular organisms called filamentous fungi. They have the potential to be highly plastic in form and function and, although behaving as coordinated individuals during vegetative growth and assimilation, can differentiate into highly regulated multicellular structures containing a wide variety of tissues and cell types.

Keywords: modular organisms; apical growth; polarity; Spitzenkörper; nuclear migration; organelles; septa; branching patterns; anastomosis; localization; reproduction

Figure 1.

An idealized view of a fungal hyphal tip. ER, endoplasmic reticulum; GE, Golgi equivalent; M, mitochondrion; N, nucleus; S, Spitzenkorper; V, vesicles; Vac, vacuole.

Figure 2.

Types of septation in hyphae of different fungi. (a) Complete septum, usually found in Chytridiomycota, Zygomycota and Oomycota, delimiting reproductive structures. (b) Multiperforate septum, found in some Zygomycota. (c) Simple septum (with Woronin bodies), found in Ascomycota. (d) The dolipore septum, found in Basidiomycota.

Figure 3.

Peripheral hyphae extend into new resources while hyphal branches in the older part of a mycelium may fuse (anastomose) to form a network.

Figure 4.

Clamp connections arise as lateral branches originating at the site of the conjugate mitoses; unlike most vegetative branches, they grow backwards, curve and fuse with the same hypha. (a) Dikaryon prior to nuclear division and septation. (b) Nuclear division as a side branch forms and curves backwards; one dividing nucleus enters a branch. (c) Nuclear division complete; dolipore septa form, cutting off the branch and the apical cell. (d) The branch fuses with the subapical cell and the nuclei move to their normal positions.



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Further Reading

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Ross, Ian K(Apr 2001) Hyphae. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000366]