As with other plants, so in fungi the essential process of fertilization consists in the fusion of two nuclei, but owing to the absence of well-marked sexual organs from many fungi, a peculiar interest attaches to certain nuclear fusions in the vegetative cells or in young spores of many forms. Thus in Ustilagineae the chlamydospores, and in Uredineae the teleutospores, each contain two nuclei when young, which fuse as the spores mature.
Physiologically, any cell or group of cells separated off from a hypha or unicellular fungus, and capable of itself growing out - germinating - to reproduce the fungus, is a spore; but it is evident that so wide a definition does not exclude the ordinary vegetative cells of sprouting fungi, such as yeasts, or small sclerotium like cell-aggregates of forms like Coniothecium.
In the first place, the extremely small size and isolation of the vegetative cells place the protoplasmic contents in peculiarly favourable circumstances for action, and we may safely conclude that, weight for weight and molecule for molecule, the protoplasm of bacteria is brought into contact with the environment at far more points and over a far larger surface than is that of higher organisms, whether - as in plants - it is distributed in thin layers round the sap-vacuoles, or - as in animals - is bathed in fluids brought by special mechanisms to irrigate it.
Intestinal colonization botulism results from colonization of the gut by vegetative cells.
When these dense " swarms " of vegetative cells become fixed in a matrix of their own swollen contiguous cell-walls, they pass over into a sort of resting state as a so-called zoogloea (fig.