In the early years of scientific study, fungi were part of the plant kingdom. Since that time they have been given their own kingdom because of their unique structure and function. Botany is the branch of science that deals with plants and mycology is the study of fungus. Plants are easily identifiable by their green color. Some examples of fungi are mushrooms, yeast and mold.

Main Differences Between Plants and Fungi

One of the main differences between plants and fungi is that fungi have chitin as a component of their cell walls instead of cellulose. Both chitin and cellulose are comprised of polysaccharide chains. In plants the monomer in this chain is glucose and in fungi it is a modified form of glucose called N-acetylglucosamine. Another contrast between plants and fungi is the presence of chlorophyll in plants and not in fungi. Fungi absorb all the nutrients they need from the soil unlike plants which require chlorophyll to conduct photosynthesis.

The table below shows more differences between plants and fungi.

Comparison Chart

Feature Fungi Plants
Major cell wall component Chitin (N-acetylglucosamine) Cellulose (glucose)
Has chlorophyll for photosynthesis? No Yes
Digests food before uptake? Yes No
Has roots, stems and leaves? No, has filaments Yes
Can make their own food? No, heterotrophic Yes, autotrophic
Types of gametes Spores Seeds and pollen
Trophic level Decomposers Producers
Food storage form Glycogen Starch

Chitin glucose and cellulose
One difference between plants and fungi is in the main substance that makes up their cell walls. The image above shows how N-acetylglucosamine polymerizes into chitin (in fungi cell walls) and how glucose polymerizes into cellulose (in plant cell walls).

References

  • 8 Differences Between Plants and Fungi. (n.d.). In Major Differences.com. Retrieved January 9, 2018 from http://www.majordifferences.com/2017/07/8-differences-between-plants-and-fungi.html#.WlU_E6inFpg
  • Difference Between Fungi and Plants. (n.d.). In DifferenceBetween.net. Retrieved January 9, 2018 from http://www.differencebetween.net/science/difference-between-fungi-and-plants/