What Are the Characteristics of Zygomycota?

Zygomycota are about 900 different species of land fungi with very diverse lifestyles, which are defined as a group by their use of zygospores, a particular type of spore produced by these fungi through sexual reproduction. They are most commonly seen as mold on bread and sweet fruits, such as strawberries. Some species establish symbiotic relationships with plants, while others parasitize animals.

Zygomycota is considered the most primitive group of land fungi. They grow as long, thin strands known as hyphae, with individual strands composed of multiple cells with no separators. These are essentially single long cells with multiple sets of organelles, including nuclei. The cells construct strong cell walls against the environment out of chitin. They are capable of both sexual and asexual reproduction, using different types of spores for each.

Zygomycota are very important organisms for the environment, particularly in the carbon cycle, as they live near plants and digest both dead organic matter and animal dung that occurs in those areas, according to MicrobeWiki. They are often detrimental to other organisms, acting as pathogens to plants, animals, amoebas and other fungi. Some species have harmless relationships with arthropods, occupying their guts and digesting food items that the arthropod cannot digest.