Heterotrophic organisms with an ecology similar to fungi are traditionally studied by mycologists. Molecular studies have revolutionized our understanding of the phylogeny of these organisms and it is now well established that they are not closely related, but despite their similar ecology actually belong to several different kingdoms.
Two growth types can be distinguished among these organisms similar to fungi:
True slime molds grow as a syncytium, i.e., they form one mass of gelatinous slime that represents a single amoeboid cell with thousands of nuclei living together within the same cytoplasm. Macroscopically these plasmodial slim molds are almost indistinguishable from cellular slime molds, which are aggregates of single cells all inhabiting the same mass of gelatinous slime.
The filamentous forms are superficially similar to the hyphal network of true Fungi, but these organisms are phylogenetically related to algae (Chromalveolata), i.e., during their evolutionary history they once might have been capable of photosynthesis, but must have lost their chloroplasts when they adopted a heterotrophic mode of absorptive nutrition.
Knowledge of the diversity of these groups is generally extremely poor and most remain unknown from the Galapagos.
Editors: Frank Bungartz, Scott T. Bates.
Other Contributors: Franklin Arboleda, Xavier Arturo, Paul Cannon, Paul Gamboa, Teresa Iturriaga, Leif Ryvarden.
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This list should be cited as follows: