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Phylum Ascomycota: Definition & Examples

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Instructor: Brekke Peterson Munks
Phylum Ascomycota is a type of fungus that can present in complex varieties of shapes. Learn more about the definition of Ascomycota and discover examples of where these fungi are observed in relation to other organisms, both plants, and animals. Updated: 11/03/2021

What Is an Ascomycota?

Have you ever seen a fungal truffle? Have you eaten one? Fungal truffles are part of a group of fungi called ascomycota. Ascomycota literally translates to 'sac fungi'; however, these fungi come in many forms or shapes, such as spongy, long, skinny cylinders, cup-shaped, coral-like, and others.

Fungi is one of six kingdoms used to classify organisms. Within each kingdom are subcategories that further organize organisms. Ascomycota is one of these subgroups categorized as a phylum. A phylum simply organizes organisms from a kingdom into subcategories based on similar characteristics. Ascomycota form the largest phylum within fungi and live all over the Earth.

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  • 0:00 What Is an Ascomycota?
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Examples of Ascomycota

In the alternative medicine world, a prime example of Ascomycota fungi is the Cordyceps ascomycota, which is used to help support the immune system. These organisms grow on other creatures like insects and worms, and can be red, yellow, brown or orange.

If you are foodie you might have had the pleasure of eating morel mushrooms. These ascomycota are gathered after forests burn and are often available at specialty gourmet shops.

Other examples of ascomycota include those that grow with lichen in the alpine and tundra regions of the world. These have close relationships with algae where the fungi and algae swap nutrients for survival without hindering the other, which is known as a symbiotic relationship.

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