In this article we will discuss about the features and significance of deuteromycetes.
Salient Features of Deuteromycetes:
(i) Deuteromycetes occur mostly as saprophytes on a wide range of substrates, but a large number of them are parasites on plants and animals (including humans) and cause a variety of diseases.
Leaf- spots, blights, blotch, wilts, rots, anthracnose, etc. are the important diseases of plants, while diseases like meningitis, candidiasis, skin diseases, nail diseases, dermatomycosis as ringworms, athlete’s foot, etc. occur in animals (including humans).
(ii) The mycelium is made up of well-developed, profusely branched and septate hypha that possess multinucleate cells and simple pore septa.
(iii) The hyphae may be inter- or intracellular, and their cell wall chiefly contains chitin-glucan.
(iv) Deuteromycetes reproduce only asexually. The asexual reproduction may take place by hyphal fragments, budding (common in Blastomycetes), arthrospores (flat-ended asexual spores formed by the breaking up of cells from the hypha), chlamydospores (thick-walled modified cells functioning as resting spores), or most commonly by conidia or conidiospores (nonmotile spores formed externally on the surface of hyphae or on specialized hyphal branches called conidiophores).
(v) The cell of conidiophore that produces conidia is called conidiogenous cell and the conidia may be produced either at the tip or side of the conidiogenous cell either singly or in chains.
(vi) The conidiophores are either frees from one anther (mononematous) or they may be aggregated to form specialized structures such as synnemata and sporodochia.
In large number of Deuteromycetes, the conidiophores are formed in more specialized and organized fruiting layers present within the specialized fruiting bodies called conidiomata (sing. Conidioma; formerly called conidiocarps). The conidiomata may be acervulus or pycnidium.
(vii) Sexual reproduction lacks, but a parasexual cycle or parasexuality generally operates in their life to fulfil the requirements of sexuality.
Significance of Deuteromycetes:
(i) Deuteromycetes abundantly occur in soil where they play a vital role in the decomposition of organic matter and thus bring about recycling of nutrients in nature.
(ii) Some deuteromycetous fungi are medicinally very important. For convenience, the wonder drug penicillin is commercially obtained from Penicillium chrysogenum, whereas P. griseofulvum is the source of the production of griseofulvin antibiotic.
(iii) The use of deuteromycetous fungi in fermentation is so important that without them there would be no such fermentation industry as it is in their presence. Many new and novel chemical compounds are obtained from these fungi at industrial level.
(iv) Deuteromycetes are utilized for their ability of biochemical synthesis and conversions such as that of steroids which are of great significance in pharmaceuticals.
(v) Deuteromycetes, on the other hand, are very important in playing their negative roles. Many of them bio-deteriorate our materials, whereas many more produce variety of toxins in foods, feeds, and grains in storage. Some of these toxins have been found to be carcinogenic to humans and animals.
(vi) A large number of deuteromycetous fungi are serious plant pathogens and are responsible for causing variety of plant diseases resulting in great economic losses. Many deuteromycetes also cause diseases like mycoses, ringworm etc. in humans.