Examples of Zygomycetes

Zygomycetes are a diverse fungal class that can be found worldwide. There are over 1,000 species of fungi that make up the class Zygomycetes. Learn the different types of fungi found in this group and what they do with these zygomycetes examples.

zygomycetes example of rhizopus stolonifer making bread mold zygomycetes example of rhizopus stolonifer making bread mold
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Zygomycetes: Unique Fungi

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.

Zygomycete Examples by Order

You're likely to see examples of zygomycetes everywhere you look. Some zygomycetes are parasites and feed off of plants and animals, while others live on or in organisms in symbiotic relationships. Additionally, some live in soil and decaying organic matter and are often the cause of food spoilage. Take a look at these examples of zygomycetes organized by order.

Dimargaritales

Dimargaritales are parasitic fungi that are found in the digestive tracts of insects. They are facultative parasites, meaning that they can live without a host if needed. There is only one family in this order, the Dimargaritaceae, which includes three genera:

  • Dimargaris (D. bacillispora, D. verticellata, D. arida, and so on)
  • Dispira (D. cornuta, D. implicata, D. parvispora, and so on)
  • Tieghemiomyces (T. californicus, T. parasiticus)

Endogonales

Endogonales is an order of fungi that is eaten by rodents. The zygospores are then distributed by the rodents' feces. The only family in this order is Endogonaceae, and its four genera in this order and their species include:

  • Endogone (E. acrogena, E. flammicorona, E. lactiflua, and so on)
  • Peridiospora (P. tatachia, P. reticulata)
  • Sclerogone (S. eucalypti)
  • Youngiomyces (Y. aggregatus, Y. carolinensis, Y. multiplex, Y. stratosus)

Kickxellales

Another order of Zygomycetes is the Kickxellales, named after botanist Jean Kickx. They are found in rodent dung and soil. It includes the family Kickxellaceae, which includes the genera and species:

  • Coemansia (C. aciculifera, C. braziliensis, C. pectinata)
  • Dipsacomyces (D. acuminosporus)
  • Kickxella (K. alabastrina)
  • Linderina (L. macrospora, L. pennispora)
  • Martensella (M. pectinata, M. corticii)
  • Martensiomyces (M. pterosporus)
  • Mycoëmilia (M. scoparia)
  • Myconymphaea (M. yatsukahoi)
  • Pinnaticoemansia (P. coronatispora)
  • Ramicandelaber (R. brevisporus, R. longisporus)
  • Spirodactylon (S. aureum)
  • Spiromyces (S. aspiralis, S. minutus)
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Mortierellales

Mortierellaceae is the only family in the order Mortierellales. Mortierellales are often found in the soil of forest ecosystems and other temperate climates. There are six genera in this order, whose 93 species include:

  • Aquamortierella (A. elegans)
  • Dissophora (D. decumbens, D. nadsonii, D. ornata)
  • Gamsiella (G. multidivaricata)
  • Lobosporangium (L. transversalis)
  • Modicella (M. malleola, M. reniformis)
  • Mortierella (M. acrotona, M. capitata, M. dichotoma, and so on)

Mucorales

The largest order of Zygomycetes is Mucorales. Fungi in this order are known as pin molds, which create black bread mold. It includes 11 families (such as Backusellaceae, Mycotyphaceae and Syncephalastraceae), 56 genera, and over 300 species, such as:

  • Absidia (A. californica, A. parricida, A. repens, and so on)
  • Actinomucor (A. elegans var. elegans, A. taiwanensis)
  • Amylomyces (A. rouxii)
  • Apophysomyces (A. elegans)
  • Backusella (B. circina, B. ctenidia, B. lamprospora)
  • Benjaminiella (B. multispora, B. poitrasii, B. youngii)
  • Blakeslea (B. monospora, B. sinensis, B. trispora)
  • Chaetocladium (C. brefeldii, C. jonesii)
  • Chlamydoabsidia (C. padenii)
  • Choanephora (C. cucurbitarum, C. infundibulifera)
  • Circinella (C. angarensis, C. lacrymispora, C. umbellata, and so on)
  • Circinomucor (C. circinelloides, C. janssenii, C. zonatus, and so on)
  • Cokeromyces (C. recurvatus)
  • Cunninghamella (C. antarctica, C. echinulata var. echinulata, C. vesiculosa)
  • Dicanophora (D. fulva)
  • Dichotomocladium (D. elegans, D. floridanum, D. robustum, and so on)
  • Ellisomyces (D. robustum)
  • Fennellomyces (F. gigacellularis, F. linderi, F. verticellatus)
  • Gilbertella (G. persicaria)
  • Gongronella (G. butlerii, G. lacrispora)
  • Halteromyces (H. radiatus)
  • Helicostylum (H. elegans, H. pulchrum)
  • Hesseltinella (H. vesiculosa)
  • Hyphomucor (H. assamensis)
  • Kirkomyces (K. cordense)
  • Lentamyces (L. parricida, L. zychae)
  • Lichtheimia (L. blakesleeana, L. corymbifera, L. hyalospora, L. ramosa)
  • Mucor (M. abundans, M. mucedo, M. tuberculisporus, and so on)
  • Mycocladus (M. blakesleeanus, M. hyalospora, M. ramosus, M. verticellatus)
  • Mycotypha (M. africana, M. indica, M. microspora)
  • Parasitella (P. parasitica)
  • Phascolomyces (P. articulosus)
  • Phycomyces (P. blakesleeanus, P. microsporus, P. nitens)
  • Pilaira (P. anomala, P. caucasica, P. nigrescens)
  • Pilobolus (P. crystallinus, P. longipes, P. sphaerosporus, and so on)
  • Pirella (P. circinans, P. naumovii)
  • Poitrasia (P. circinans)
  • Protomycocladus (P. faisalabadensis)
  • Radiomyces (R. embreei, R. mexicana, R. spectabilis)
  • Rhizomucor (R. endophyticus, R. pusillus, R. tauricus)
  • Rhizopodopsis (R. javanicus)
  • Rhizopus (R. circinans, R. schipperae R. stolonifer, and so on)
  • Saksenaea (S. vasiformis)
  • Siepmannia (S. laricetii, S. pinetii, S. zychae)
  • Spinellus (S. arvernensis, S. fusiger, S. gigasporus)
  • Sporodiniella (S. umbellata)
  • Syncephalastrum (S. monosporum var. pluriproliferum, S. racemosum)
  • Syzygites (S. megalocarpus)
  • Thamnidium (T. elegans)
  • Thamnostylum (T. lucknowense, T. nigricans, T. piriforme, T. repens)
  • Thermomucor (T. indicae-seudaticae)
  • Umbelopsis (U. autotrophica, U. isabellina, U. versiformis)
  • Utharomyces (U. epallocaulus)
  • Zychaea (Z. mexicana)
  • Zygorhynchus (Z. californicus, Z. heterogamous, Z. japonicus)
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Zoopagales

Order Zoopagales also contains many families, genera and species of fungi. They are predatory parasites of amoeba and other microscopic organisms. The five families of Zoopagales are Cochlonemataceae, Helicocephalidaceae, Piptocephalidaceae, Sigmoideomycetaceae, and Zoopagaceae. They include the following genera and species:

  • Acaulopage (A. baculispora, A. rhaphidospora, A. hystricospora, and so on)
  • Amoebophilus (A. caudatus, A. penardii, A. sicyosporus)
  • Aplectosoma (A. microsporum)
  • Bdellospora (B. helicoides)
  • Brachymyces (B. megasporus)
  • Cochlonema (C. agamum, C. lineare, C. verrucosum, and so on)
  • Cystopage (C. ellipsospora, C. lateralis, C. subtilis)
  • Endocochlus (E. asteroides, E. binaris, E. brachysporus, E. gigas)
  • Euryancale (E. marsipioides, E. phallospora, E. sacciospora)
  • Helicocephalum (H. africanum, H. corniculatum, H. sarcophilum, and so on)
  • Kuzuhaea (K. moniliformis)
  • Piptocephalis (P. arrhiza, P. freseniana, P. lemonnieriana)
  • Reticulocephalis (R. clathroides, R. gyrosus)
  • Rhopalomyces (R. bennyi, R. elegans var. elegans, R. semitectis, and so on)
  • Sigmoideomyces (S. divaricatus, S. dispiroides)
  • Stylopage (S. anomala, S. haploe, S. rhabdospora, and so on)
  • Syncephalis (S. annularis, S. cordata, S. formosana, and so on)
  • Thamnocephalis (T. ovalispora, T. quadrupedata, T. sphaerospora)
  • Zoopage (Z. atractospora, Z. pachyblasta, Z. phanera)
  • Zoophagus (Z. cornus, Z. insidians, Z. tentaclum, and so on)
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Other Possible Zygomycetes

In recent years, there have been changes in the classification of Zygomycetes. While they used to be part of the phylum Zygomycota, Zygomycetes are now included in phyla Mucoromycota and Zoopagomycota. So Zygomycetes aren't really good Zygomycota examples anymore. There are also additional orders which are sometimes considered to be Zygomycetes.

Asellariales

Asellariales are commonly found in the digestive tracts of arthropods, including pill bugs, woodlice and crustaceans. They are in the division Kickxellomycotina, along with Kickxellales, Dimargaritales and Harpellales. They include the species A. dactylopus and A. jatibonicua).

Basidiobolales

Order Basidiobolales is also often grouped with the rest of the Zygomycetes. More genetic testing is underway to determine whether Basidiobolales, which can be found in animal dung, is truly a member of this class. It includes the genus Basidiobolus and the species B. ranarum, which can cause zygomycosis.

Entomophthorales

The fungi species in the order Entomophthorales are mostly pathogens of insects. Their name means "insect destroyer," which describes what they do to the insects they inhabit. Families of the Entomophthorales include Ancylistaceae, Completoriaceae, Entomophthoraceae, Meristacraceae, and Neozygitaceae.

Harpellales

Harpellales are part of the division Kickxellomycotina and produce zygospores. They are found in the gut lining of insects and include over 200 species, such as H. Melusinae and S. fecundum.

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Zygomycetes and Disease

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 an increased risk of disease caused by Zygomycetes. Some conditions or diseases associated with various species of Zygomycetes include:

  • Angioinvasive disease
  • Sinusitis
  • Subcutaneous mycosis
  • Infections of the gastrointestinal tract, lymph nodes, and muscles
  • Infections of the face and nose and mouth cavities

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.

Fungi in the Context of Living Things

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. Check out examples of other types of fungi that you're likely to see in the world. Or, take a look at how fungi fall in the context of the six biological kingdoms.