Zygomycetes are a diverse fungal class of the phylum Zygomycota that can be found worldwide. There are well over 800 species of Zygomycetes fungi within the 124 genera, 32 families and 10 orders that make up Zygomycota.
Zygomycetes are a unique form of fungi because they possess the ability to reproduce both sexually, by creating zygospores, and asexually. Most fungi cannot sexually reproduce. Zygospores are created through the fusion of two other spores. Asexual reproduction of this fungi occurs via the spread of spores by animals or in the wind.
Various zygomycetes thrive in different atmospheres.
Additionally, they can live on organic matter and are often the cause of food spoilage. An example of where one might see Zygomycetes is black bread mold which is specifically the species Rhizopus stolonifer.
Zygomycetes can cause disease in humans. Those who are most at risk of conditions caused by Zygomycetes are those with compromised immune systems. Specifically the National Institute of Health has published that those with diabetes mellitus, neutropenia, sustained immunosuppressive therapy, iron chelation therapy, chronic use of prednisone, use of broad spectrum antibiotics and malnutrition are all at risk for developing conditions associated with Zygomycetes.
Additionally any sort of trauma to the skin, wound, stick from a needle or a burn can also contribute to increased risk of disease caused by Zygomycetes. Some conditions or diseases associated with various species of Zygomycetes include:
Animals can also be negatively affected by Zygomycetes. Fungal infections have been noted in animals, particularly horses, dogs, and some cats. These can be life threatening.
Now you have seen lots of different examples. Remember, there are hundreds of different types of Zygomycetes everywhere throughout the world. This means you probably have encountered some examples or will encounter some examples in the future, even if you do not know exactly what type of fungus you are encountering.