Algae vs. Fungi: What's the Difference?

Key Difference

Algae are a group of simple, typically autotropic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms. Fungi are a group of unicellular or multinucleate organisms that live and grow on decomposed matter.

Comparison Chart

Algae Fungi
Domain Eukaryotic Eukaryotic
Singular Alga Fungus
Kingdom Protista Fungi
Habitat Abundantly present in water bodies, terrestrial areas, and some unusual areas such as ice, snow, etc. More prominent in moist habitat
Body Thallus Mycelium
Spores Zoospores, aplanospores and chlamydospores Canidiospores, zoospores and aplanospores
Nutrition Light, minerals from water Nutrients from carbon based life forms
Cell wall composition Carbohydrates and cellulose chitin
Chlorophyll Present Absent
Term Origin Latin for seaweed Latin for mushroom
Etymology Unknown Originates from the Greek word, “sphongos” meaning sponge.
Reproduction Asexual and complex Sexual, asexual and spore dispersal
Nature Non-parasitic Parasitic and saprophytes
Uses Food, Firewood, Enricher, dyes, bioremediation, pollution control of air and plastics, energy source. Food, drug, medicine, pest control, industrial chemicals, and enzymes.
Examples Seaweed and freshwater moss Mushrooms, yeast, and truffles
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What is Algae?

Algae are most frequently present in aquatic bodies, but few forms also survive on rocks or hard matters in a humid environment. Sometimes algae grow as epiphytes. Thallus (body of algae) is made up of parenchyma cells. Cells of algae contain chloroplast because of which algae seems green in color. They are known to be related to the plants because algae contain chlorophyll. But sometimes this pigment is masked by other pigments and algae appear in brown or red colors. But they lack roots and stems. Algae size varies from a few microscopic to over 100 feet in length, but it depends on the type of algae. They can also reproduce by many from simple asexual cell division to complex forms of sexual reproduction. They mostly reproduce by sexually, asexually and vegetative. There are almost 25,000 species of algae are present in the world. Algae is categorized into six phyla namely; Chrysophyta, Euglenophyta, Pyrrophyta, Chlorophyta, Phaeophyta, and Rhodophyta. It is said that the first plant on earth derived from freshwater algae such as Chara almost 500 million years ago. Some types of algae can develop a symbiotic relationship with other organisms, where they provide organic matter. Coral reefs, Lichens, and sea sponges are a few of these organisms that obtain nutrients from algae. Some algae forms are also edible such as seaweeds. Other examples of algae are Spirogyra, Volvox, Chlorella, Chlamydomonas and Gelidium Fucus.

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What is Fungi?

Term fungi have derived from Latin word “fungus” which means mushroom. Derivation of this word is from Greek word “sphongos” which means sponge. Fungi are a collection of unicellular or multinucleate organisms that survive on decomposed substances. Kingdom fungi differ from plants because of the cell wall. The cell wall of plants is composed of cellulose while cell wall of fungi consists of chitin. But fungi are considered similar to plants because of immobility, growing in soil, similar morphology and growth habitat. Fungi can replicate by both sexual and asexual methods. Fungi are considered both symbiotic and parasitic in nature. Fungi most commonly survive on carbon-based life forms such as insects, plants, animals, and human. They covert organic matter into inorganic matter and play an important role in nutrient cycling and exchange. There are 40,000 species of fungi found worldwide. Classes of fungi are zygomycetes, ascomycetes, basidiomycetes, and fungi imperfect. Humans use fungi as food. Examples of edible fungi are yeast, mushrooms, and truffles. But there are some rare mushrooms which are poisonous in nature.  Fungi are also useful in the production of antibiotics, detergents, and pesticides. Some mushrooms are called magic mushrooms which have psychedelic properties and are used as recreational drugs. Examples of fungi are Rhizopus Penicillium, Morchella, Agaricus, and Yeast.

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Algae vs. Fungi

  • Both algae and fungi are thallophytes because their body is not differentiated into stem, root, and leaves.
  • The body of algae is unicellular or multicellular known as thallus which is usually not differentiated into root, stem, and leaves.
  • The body of fungi is simple, primitive, unicellular or multicellular and known as mycelium.
  • The branch of biology which deals with the study of algae is called phycology.
  • The branch of biology which study fungi is called mycology.
  • Algae are autotrophs and prepare their food with the help of chlorophyll and photosynthesis by using the simple organic material by themselves.
  • Fungi are heterotroph and cannot make their own They obtain their food from other organisms.
  • Algae cannot live in darkness because they have to make food.
  • Fungi can live in dark places.
  • Algae reserves their food in the form of starch.
  • Fungi reserves their food in the form of glycogen and oil globules.

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