How Do Fungi Reproduce?

Bart Everson/CC-BY 2.0

Fungi reproduce in one of two ways: asexually through mitosis, or sexually through meiosis. Sexual reproduction occurs far less frequently than asexual production and usually only when necessary to adapt to environmental change.

Asexual reproduction happens through vegetative spores, through mycelial fragmentation or through budding.

Vegetative reproduction occurs when a single haploid cell produces millions of spores through mitosis that are genetically identical to the original cell. These spores are incubated within a structure called a sporangium and are dispersed through a variety of means, such as being carred by wind, latching onto other organisms and even floating in water. Once these spores find a viable environment, they begin to grow and reproduce.

Mycelial fragmentation occurs when the fungus breaks down into many separate fragments and each of these grow into a new organism that is genetically identical to the original.

Unlike most fungus, yeast uses a different asexual method of reproduction known as budding, in which an offspring is formed and pinched off of the original cell.

Due to the need to adapt to new environments, most fungi also have the ability to reproduce sexually, through meiosis. This process involves two different strains of haploid cells fusing together to create a diploid spore, known as a zygospore. The resulting offspring contain genetic characteristics of both parents.