What Are Hyphae? Including Production, Structure, And Variations

Hyphae are made up of hypha, which are long filamentous branches that can be found in fungi and actinobacteria. Hyphae are essential structures for growth in these species, and they are collectively referred to as mycelium.

What Are Hyphae? Including Production, Structure, And Variations

Hyphae Structure

The first hyphae cell is produced from the spore, and it continues to grow until it reaches the apex.

Even though some of these structures are visible with the naked eye, an individual hypha is a microscopic tube-like structure with cytoplasm surrounded by a plasma membrane.

In addition to the plasma membrane, hyphae is surrounded by a tougher cell wall. The cell wall is composed of chitin, which is a long chain of N-acetylglucosamine, a nitrogen-containing polysaccharide.

One of the most significant advantages of the chitin cell wall is its ability to be both strong and flexible. This allows the hyphae to grow and lengthen in any direction. This is aided, however, by the lysis of the cell wall at the tip of the hyphae.

The cell wall lyses during elongation, when cells are added to the tip of the hyphae, allowing cells to be added at the apex for hyphal elongation.

Simultaneously, a new cell wall is formed so that the new cells that are forming as the hyphae grows are protected.

Hyphae Variations


Septate hyphae are so named because they form structures called septa between the cells. Unlike non-septate hyphae, septate hyphae, found in organisms like Aspergillus species, split the hyphae thread into several cells.

Hyphae is finely divided, but septa possess pores that allow different materials to pass between cells.

Aside from these materials and nutrients, the septa allow organelles like the ribosome to move from one cell to another. This is especially critical for newly formed cells at the hyphal tip.


Non-septate hyphae, also known as aseptate hyphae, lack septa and thus are typically elongated cells with no divisions. Non-septate hyphae are shorter and more erect as they are made up of elongated individual cells.

Hyphae Classifications

Hyphae characteristics are an important method of classifying various fungal species.


Generative hyphae are undifferentiated and capable of developing reproductive structures.

They are usually thin-walled, with slightly thickened walls on occasion, have frequent septa, and may have clamp connections. They could also be covered in mucilage or gelatinized.


Skeletal hyphae are classified into two types: classical, which are thick-walled and very long, and septate, which are rarely branched and have little cell content. They have a small number of septa and no clamp connections.

Fusiform Skeletal

The second type of skeletal hyphae are fusiform skeletal hyphae. In contrast to typical skeletal hyphae, these are swollen centrally and frequently exceedingly broad, giving the hypha a fusiform shape.


Binding hyphae have thick-walled walls and are frequently branched. Because of the many tapering branches, they frequently resemble deer antlers or defoliated trees.

Hyphae Production

Understanding the life cycle of fungi is essential for understanding how hyphae are formed. Fungi’s life cycle begins with the production of spores, which are produced in the organism’s fruiting bodies.

When spores are dispersed into the surrounding environment by wind, animals, or other means, they begin to germinate and produce hyphae, this then develops further to form mycelium.

However, this is also affected by the type of environment in which the spore lands.

Spores germinate better in environments with adequate nutrients, warmth, and moisture than in environments without such suitable and favorable conditions.

The fungus, and thus the hyphae, grow at the tips of these tubular structures. Then, as the structure lengthens, new cells are constantly produced at the ends of the hyphae. This is accomplished through a process known as apical elongation.

Hyphae Growth

Hyphae expand by extending cell walls and internal components from the tips.

During tip growth, a specialized organelle called the spitzenkörper aids in the formation of new membrane and cell wall structures by harboring and releasing vesicles derived from the golgi apparatus along the hypha’s apex.

The tip of the hypha is extended as the spitzenkörper moves due to the release of vesicle contents, which form the cell wall, and vesicle membranes, which form a new cell membrane.

As the hypha grows, new septa can form to divide the cells internally. The distinctive branching of hyphae is caused by the formation of a new tip from an existing hypha or the division of a growing tip.

Hyphae Composition

Fungal species are also further classified based on the hyphal systems they contain. There are four general subtypes:


While almost all fungal species have generative hyphae, those that only have this type are known as monomitic.


A species that has generative hyphae as well as another type of hyphae. The most common dimitic fungi combination is generative and skeletal.


Species that contain all three types of hyphae including generative, skeletal, fusiform skeletal, and binding.


Fusiform skeletal hyphae are bound to generative hyphae to form sarcodimitic hyphae. Fusiform skeletal hyphae, as well as binding and generative hyphae, are found in sarcotrimic species.

Hyphae Function

Hyphae can be modified in a variety of ways to perform specific functions. Some parasitic fungi develop haustoria that aid in absorption within host cells.

Mutualistic mycorrhizal fungi perform a similar function in nutrient exchange and are therefore important in assisting water and plant nutrient absorption.

In lichens, hyphae envelop the gonidia and form a large part of their structure. Hyphae in nematode-trapping fungi can be transformed into trapping structures such as adhesive nets and constricting rings.

To transport nutrients over longer distances, cords can be formed.

Some parasitic fungi’s hyphae are specialized for nutrient absorption within a specific host.

These hyphae have specialized tips called haustoria that allow them to penetrate plant cell walls or other organisms’ tissues to obtain nutrients.

Some fungi have formed symbiotic relationships with vascular plant species. Fungi produce specialized hyphae called arbuscules, which are found in the roots or phylum of vascular plants and absorb nutrients and water from the soil.

In this way, the hyphae help the plants by increasing their access to nutrients in the soil while also promoting their own growth.

In some fungi, hyphae have evolved into specialized nematode-trapping structures that trap nematode species using nets and ring structures.

Several fungal species have hyphae that are made up of chord-like structures called mycelial chords, which are used by fungi like mushrooms to transport nutrients over long distances.


What Are Hyphae? Including Production, Structure, And Variations

Mycelium is a fungus root-like structure composed of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. Mycelium-based fungal colonies can be found in and on soil as well as a variety of other substrates.

Mycelia, unlike fungal hyphae, are highly branched and visible to the naked eye.

They have been found to be highly septate, which means that the tubular structures are divided into compartmental cells by septa, in addition to being highly branched.

When compatible monokaryotic mycelia join to form a dikaryotic mycelium, it can form fruiting bodies like mushrooms. A mycelium can be tiny, forming an invisible colony, or it can grow to cover thousands of acres.

A fungus absorbs nutrients from its surroundings via its mycelium. It accomplishes this in two stages.

To begin, hyphae secrete enzymes onto or into the food source, which degrade biological polymers into smaller units such as monomers. By facilitated diffusion and active transport, these monomers are absorbed into the mycelium.

Mycelia play an important role in the decomposition of plant material in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. They contribute to the organic fraction of soil and release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere as they grow.

Ectomycorrhizal extramatrical mycelium and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi mycelium increase the efficiency of water and nutrient absorption in most plants and confer resistance to some plant pathogens.

Many soil invertebrates rely on mycelium as a food source. They are essential to agriculture and are essential to the majority of plant species, with many co-evolving with the fungi.

Mycelium is an important part in a plant’s health, nutrient intake, and growth, and it plays an important role in plant fitness.

Mycelium Functions

Fungi play an important role in an ecosystem by decomposing organic compounds. Because petroleum products and some pesticides are organic molecules, they may provide a carbon source for fungi.

As a result, fungi have the potential to eliminate such pollutants from their surroundings, unless the chemicals are toxic to the fungus. Bioremediation refers to the process of biological degradation.

Mycelial mats have been proposed as biological filters capable of removing chemicals and microorganisms from soil and water. Mycofiltration refers to the use of fungal mycelium to accomplish this.

Understanding the relationship between plants and mycorrhizal fungi suggests new avenues for increasing crop yields.

Mycelium can act as a binder on logging roads, holding disturbed new soil together and stopping washouts until woody plants can establish roots.

Growing mycelium in agricultural waste can produce alternatives to polystyrene and plastic packaging. Mycelium has also been used to make furniture, bricks, and synthetic leather.

Fungi are essential for composting biomass because they decompose feedstock components like lignin, which many other composting microorganisms cannot.

When turning a backyard compost pile, visible networks of mycelia that have formed on the decaying organic material within are frequently exposed.

Organic farming and gardening require compost as a soil amendment and fertilizer. Composting has the potential to divert a significant portion of municipal solid waste from landfills.

Mycelium Reproduction

When a spore germinates and turns into homokaryotic mycelia, it os an example of mycelia being involved in reproduction. The homokaryotic are mycelia with nuclei of the same genotype.

For example, when basidiospore spores germinate, they create homokaryotic mycelium composed of uninucleate or monokaryon cells.

When monokaryons come into contact, the hyphal walls rupture, a process known as hyphal anastomoses. This gives vegetatively compatible monokaryon nuclei the ability to move into the mycelia of the other monokaryon.

This eventually leads to the formation of binoculeate cells and, as a result, the formation of dikaryon mycelium.

The dikaryotic mycelium can form fruiting bodies that are included in sexual reproduction conditional on external conditions such as moisture, temperature, and pH, among others.


Fungi have two structures in their bodies: hyphae and mycelium. Hyphae are filaments that are made up of several cells at the tip. Fungal hyphae secrete digestive enzymes on the external organic material.

Mycelia and hyphae are both essential components of fungi, known as mushrooms. Hyphae and mycelia are the building blocks behind fungi.

The long pieces that comprise a mycelium are known as hyphae. Strings and threadlike filaments are common descriptions for hyphae.

Furthermore, hyphae absorb the nutrients that have been digested.

Mycelium is formed by hyphae and resembles a patchwork of threads. The complexity of each structure in the fungal body is the primary distinction between hyphae and mycelium.

Hyphae are classified according to their cell division, cell wall and overall form, and refractive appearance. Cell division divides hyphae into septate, aseptate which is without septa, and pseudohyphae. 

Furthermore, hyphae are classified into three types based on their cell walls: generative, skeletal, and binding. Yeast is an unformed hypha that is very useful and applicable in many industries and fields.

Both the mycelium and the hyphae are responsible for an important fungi body process: nutrient and food absorption from the environment. 

The enzyme is produced by the hyphae in each mycelium. Enzymes break down food or nutrients into digestible forms.

Food decomposition can also be used for other purposes, such as organic material decomposition, which aids in soil renewal.

Jennifer Dawkins

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