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Basidiomycota is a division in the kingdom Fungi containing Mushrooms, rusts, and smuts. Many of the most recognizable and edible species comprise this division of over 50,000 recorded species. However, some Basidiomycetes are amongst the most deadly organisms on Earth, such as the death cap and the destroying angel.

Basidiomycota's defining characteristic

Basidiomycetes are also called club fungi. The nickname derives from the basidium, a specialized club-shaped cell where basidiospores develop. The fruiting bodies called Basidiocarp, produce the basidium in the hymenium area (spore-bearing tissue). At the end of the basidium are 2-4 appendages called sterigma, where a basidiospore develops. The spores are attached to the sterigma by an apiculus. In time the basidiospore will break away to begin the growth cycle anew.

Basidium and Basidiospores diagram

Types of Basidiomycetes

  • Gilled Mushrooms
  • Puffballs
  • Stinkhorns
  • Bracket Fungi
  • Polypores
  • Jelly Fungi
  • Boletes
  • Corals
  • Crusts
  • Chantrelles
  • Earth stars
  • Smuts
  • Bunts
  • Rusts
  • Yeasts

Division or Phylum?

According to my research, a phylum refers to the Kingdom Animalia as where division refers to Kingdoms Fungi and Plantae. However, it is only semantics, both terms essentially mean the same thing.

Subkingdom Dikarya

Along with the Ascomycota division, Basidiomycota forms the subkingdom Dikarya. They are "higher fungi" and mostly differ by the way they reproduce. Ascomycetes or sac-fungi produce up to 8 spores in a sac-like cell called an Ascus. This is unlike Basidiomycetes that develop 2-4 basidiospores on a basidium.

Subdivisions & Classes of Basidiomycota

The Basidiomycota division branches off into three subdivisions and two classes.

Agaricomycotina subdivision

The subdivision Agaricomycotina contains around 20,000 species of fungi, nearly 90% of which belong to the class Agaricomycetes. Types of fungi found in Agaricomycotina: Gilled Mushrooms, Polypores, Corals, Chanterelles, Crusts, Puffballs, and Stink Horns.

Classes of Agaricomycotina

Pucciniomycotina subdivision

Pucciniomycotina is a diverse subdivision of Basidiomycota containing over 8,000 rust fungi, fungal insect parasites, and other parasitic plant fungi. Because of their small size, Pucciniomycotina species are difficult to locate and study. Often found on plant parts such as leaves, stems, fruits, etc. The pathogens are very harmful to agriculture and forests.

The genus Septobasidium contains a fungal parasite that infects scale insects. The fungi forms a mutualistic relationship rather than killing the host. While weakening the insect, the fungus will form a mycelial mat that conceals it from parasitoid wasps.

Classes of Pucciniomycotina

  • Agaricostilbomycetes
  • Atractiellomycetes
  • Classiculomycetes
  • Cryptomycocolacomycetes
  • Cystobasidiomycetes
  • Microbotryomycetes
  • Mixiomycetes
  • Pucciniomycetes
  • Tritirachiomycetes

Ustilaginomycotina subdivision

Ustilaginomycotina is a subdivision of Basidiomycota containing over 1,700 smut fungi. Smuts are parasitic plant fungi that damage many cash crops such as barley, wheat, and corn. The smut's many teliospores infect plants by causing large tumors to above-ground parts and stunting yields.

Classes of Ustilaginomycotina

  • Exobasidiomycetes
  • Ustilaginomycetes
  • Malasseziomycetes
  • Moniliellomycetes

Wallemiomycetes class

Wallemiomycetes is a small class of fungi consisting of xerophilic molds. They are found worldwide growing on low moisture foods, indoor dust, salterns, and soil. There is also an assumed link between a Wallemiomycetes and a diseased called farmer's lung.

  • Order: Wallemiales
    • Family: Wallemiaceae
      • Genus: Wallemia

Entorrhizomycetes class

Entorrhizomycetes fungi can be either pathogenic or saprotrophic. They grow on the root of plants and produce teliospores.

  • Order: Talbotiomycetales
    • Family: Talbotiomycetaceae
      • Genus: Talbotiomyces
  • Order: Entorrhizales
    • Family: Entorrhizaceae
      • Genus: Juncorrhiza
      • Genus: Entorrhiza
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