Common Fungi Examples

Updated May 12, 2020
various fungi mushrooms
    various fungi mushrooms
    Elizabeth Perez Holowaty / Moment / Getty Images

Though types of fungi can be quite different, each type plays an important role in Earth’s ecology. Fungi eat dead materials, helping them to decompose and become new soil. Keep reading to learn more about fungi and to see common examples of fungi in various habitats.

Examples of Common Fungi

Different kinds of fungi can range from microscopic organisms to huge mushrooms. It all depends on which phylum, or taxonomic category, they belong to. Here are five major phyla in the fungi kingdom.

Examples of Ascomycota

Members of the phylum Ascomycota have some of the most wide-ranging uses. There are nearly 64,000 different ascomycetes, which are found everywhere from cheese to lichens. Check out where you may be able to find common fungi in the Ascomycota phylum:

  • Trichophyton rubrum: Skin fungus that causes ringworm and athlete’s foot
  • Penicillium: Group of fungi that are used in penicillin and various cheeses (including Blue cheese, Camembert, and Brie)
  • Candida albicans: Yeast that causes candidiasis (also known as thrush)
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae: Yeast used in baking bread
  • Xanthoria parietina: Maritime sunburst lichen

Examples of Basidiomycota

When you think of fungi, you probably think of mushrooms – which belong to the phylum Basidiomycota. Plant diseases, such as rust and smut, and puffballs, which release spores with a puff of air, are also basidiomycetes. Specific examples include:

  • Agaricus bisporus: Common edible mushrooms
  • Amanita phalloides: Poisonous mushrooms
  • Hemileia vastatrix: Plant rust disease that destroys coffee plants
  • Lycoperdon perlatum: Puffball mushrooms
  • Psilocybe cubensis: Mushrooms that cause a hallucinogenic effect

Examples of Chytridiomycota

Fungi in phylum Chytridiomycota, also known as chytrids, are the oldest type of fungi. They are microscopic organisms that are typically found in freshwater. Chyrids create asexual motile spores that need water to swim.

Some examples of chytrids include:

  • Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis: Causes chytridiomycosis, an amphibian disease
  • Synchytrium endobioticum: Causes potato wart when it comes into contact with crops
  • Olpidium brassicae: Parasitic plant fungus
  • Polyphagus euglena: Algae parasite
  • Rhizophydium harderi: Fungi found in freshwater and ocean water

Examples of Glomeromycota

Although there aren’t as many types of fungi in phylum Glomeromycota as other phyla in the fungi kingdom, they still play an important role in their terrestrial and wetland habitats. Glomeromycetes form symbiotic relationships with their plant hosts, also known as arbuscular mycorrhizae. The fungus provides nutrients to the plants, which provides the fungus energy needed to reproduce. Some examples of glomeromycetes are:

  • Gigaspora margarita: Fungus that lives on plant roots without destroying the plant
  • Geosiphon pyriformis: Lives on cyanobacteria rather than plants
  • Scutellospora persica: Another root-dwelling fungus
  • Acaulospora scrobiculata: Often found in the roots of soybean plants
  • Gigaspora gigantea: Fungus with unusually large spores

Examples of Zygomycota

If you’ve ever taken out a loaf of bread and discovered a fuzzy black mold, congratulations – you’ve seen zygomycetes! There are over 1000 species of fungi from phylum Zygomycota, most of which serve as decomposers in soil.

Here are some examples of zygomycetes:

  • Rhizopus stolonifer: Black bread mold; decomposes fruits and vegetables
  • Rhizopus oligosporus: Fungus used in tempeh and tofu
  • Pilobolus umbonatus: Fungus that survives in an animal’s digestive tract and germinates in its dung
  • Mucormycetes: Group of molds that can cause serious infection in humans (mucormycosis)
  • Syzygites megalocarpus: Mold that grows on mushrooms (fungus that feeds on fungus)

The Circle of Life

Whether they’re mushrooms, yeast, molds, or parasites, fungi play an important role in their ecosystems. Without fungi, there would be natural waste everywhere with nothing to help decompose it! For more examples of organisms and their roles in a biosphere, check out an article about the processes of a natural ecosystem.