Pilobolus crystallinus is:

Heterotrophic: If you have read the phylogeny page you have noticed that fungi are thought to be more closely related to animals than plants. This is in part due to the fact that they are heterotrophic--gain nutrients from surroundings not autotrophic--make own food.

Another reason fungi seem to be more closely related to plants is because many of them store excess food as glycogen like animals where plants store their excess food as starch.

Digest             Ingest : Unlike animals fungi do not have a large cavity to place food while it is being digested. Most nutrients that fungi need to live cannot diffuse through the membranes so fungi produce exoenzymes which digest their food on the outside and then the fungi absorb the nutrients.

Saprophyte: Get energy from nonliving organic material. In the case of Pilobolus crystallinus; dung from herbivores is the substrate--and thankfully...or else we would be knee-deep in dung


Pilobolus crystallinus was studied by Robert M. Page and his work was published in the American Journal of Botany. Page proposed a possible artificial medium for growing P. crystallinus. His work suggests reasons why P. crystallinus would choose dung as a substrate.

PilobborusThe artificial medium contained:

Asparganine--as a nitrogen source (fungi are important in the nitrogen cycle)

Sodium Acectate (NaC2H3O2)--fatty acid which is required for adequate mycelium growth

Hemin--which is actually present in the dung as porphyrin, iron source

Thiamine--stimulatory to growth but not actually required

Thiazole (C3H3NS)--required for sporangia development

Light--interestingly many fungi are not light dependent and can grow abundantly in the dark but P. crystallinus needs light for asexual reproduction for the formation of the trophocyst and aiming of the sporangia. Light is not required for mycelial growth

Water--is needed to disperse the spores                      

Text Box: This photograph is showing the asexual reproductive structures of P. crystallinus growing in herbivore dung




2007 by Ashley Seidler

This page was developed for Biology 203 (Organismal Biology) at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse

Last updated April 27, 2007

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