Palynology of Fungi

The variety of fungi represented by a large number of genera and species perhaps outnumber all other types of plants.They produce different types of reproductive bodies, which are collectively called 'spores'. The analogy between a spore and a seed can be explained by the fact that both of them germinate and produce the mother plant. The spores of fungi are unicellular or multicellular. The morphological features of fungal spores are studied in the same way as pollen morphology. Thus, the study of spore morphology includes the characters such as spore size, shape, wall components, and ornamentation.

Historically, the fungal spores were observed for the first time during the latter half of the 16th century by the Italian botanist J. P. Porta. The role of fungi in causing diseases by means of dissemination of spores was responsible for drawing the attention of botanists and medical men. A detailed account of certain airborne fungal spores and their significance in allergy and immunology has been dealt with separately in Chapter 16 'Significance of fungi as aeroallergens'.

As early as 1899, Saccardo attempted to classify fungal spores based on septation and colour. The germinal aperture, which is so significant in pollen germination is also noticed in a rudimentary form in certain fungal spores such as uredospores of rust fungi (Uredinales). Ainsworth and Bisby had recognized various types of fungal spore surface ornamentations such as punctate, verrucose, echinulate, aculeate, foveoate, reticulate and striate.

Similar to that of pollen grains, fungal spore morphology plays a significant role in the taxonomic considerations of fungi.

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