Subcellular structure and behaviour in fungal hyphae

J Microsc. 2020 Nov;280(2):75-85. doi: 10.1111/jmi.12945. Epub 2020 Aug 19.


This work briefly surveys the diversity of selected subcellular characteristics in hyphal tip cells of the fungal kingdom (Mycota). Hyphae are filamentous cells that grow by tip extension. It is a highly polarised mechanism that requires a robust secretory system for the delivery of materials (e.g. membrane, proteins, cell wall materials) to sites of cell growth. These events result it the self-assembly of a Spitzenkörper (Spk), found most often in the Basidiomycota, Ascomycota, and Blastocladiomycota, or an apical vesicle crescent (AVC), present in the most Mucoromycota and Zoopagomycota. The Spk is a complex apical body composed of secretory vesicles, cytoskeletal elements, and signaling proteins. The AVC appears less complex, though little is known of its composition other than secretory vesicles. Both bodies influence hyphal growth and morphogenesis. Other factors such as cytoskeletal functions, endocytosis, cytoplasmic flow, and turgor pressure are also important in sustaining hyphal growth. Clarifying subcellular structures, functions, and behaviours through bioimagining analysis are providing a better understanding of the cell biology and phylogenetic relationships of fungi. LAY DESCRIPTION: Fungi are most familiar to the public as yeast, molds, and mushrooms. They are eukaryotic organisms that inhabit diverse ecological niches around the world and are critical to the health of ecosystems performing roles in decomposition of organic matter and nutrient recycling (Heath, 1990). Fungi are heterotrophs, unlike plants, and comprise the most successful and diverse phyla of eukaryotic microbes, interacting with all other forms of life in associations that range from beneficial (e.g., mycorrhizae) to antagonistic (e.g., pathogens). Some fungi can be parasitic or pathogenic on plants (e.g., Cryphonectria parasitica, Magnaporthe grisea), insects (e.g., Beauveria bassiana, Cordyceps sp.), invertebrates (e.g., Drechslerella anchonia), vertebrates (e.g., Coccidioides immitis, Candia albicans) and other fungi (e.g., Trichoderma viride, Ampelomyces quisqualis). The majority of fungi, however, are saprophytes, obtaining nutrition through the brake down of non-living organic matter.

Keywords: Fungal hyphal growth; bioimaging; fungal phylogeny.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytoplasm / physiology
  • Cytoplasm / ultrastructure
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Endocytosis
  • Fungi / growth & development
  • Fungi / physiology
  • Fungi / ultrastructure*
  • Hyphae / growth & development
  • Hyphae / physiology
  • Hyphae / ultrastructure*
  • Morphogenesis
  • Organelles / ultrastructure
  • Phylogeny
  • Secretory Vesicles / physiology
  • Secretory Vesicles / ultrastructure