Difference Between Yeast and Fungus (With Table)

The world of biology is full of a variety of organisms of all shapes and sizes, ranging from tiny bacteria to the gigantic blue whale, from small plants to humungous trees. Among such organisms, are yeast and fungi. One can say that yeast and fungi are very closely related. 

Yeast vs Fungus

The difference between yeast and fungus is that while yeast is a microscopic organism that is always unicellular and it uses budding as the process for reproduction, fungus is found as both unicellular as well as multicellular and the process of reproduction is via spores.

Yeast is a unicellular organism, which is actually a fungus and consists of a single oval-shaped cell. The method of reproduction of yeast is budding. Budding is the process where, when a cell is ready to reproduce, it starts growing another tiny cell on its body, this cell then grows till full size and then when it is ready to survive on its own, it breaks off from the parent cell.

On the other hand, Fungus denotes a kingdom of more than 80,000 different organisms. However, the main characteristics of these organisms are that it can be unicellular or multicellular, and reproduces via spores. Spores are small seed-like objects that can travel using the wind or on the fur of other animals. When it lands in a suitable place, it grows into another fungus. Fungus mostly grows in damp areas, where there might be decaying organic matter to feed on.

Comparison Table Between Yeast and Fungus

Parameters of ComparisonYeastFungus
DefinitionYeast is a unicellular fungus, which is oval in shape.The fungus is a kingdom, which contains more than  80,000 different organisms, which come in various shapes and sizes.
AvailabilityYeast is pretty common in nature and almost found everywhere.Fungus usually grows in dark and damp places, where there is decaying organic matter to feed on.
ReproductionBudding.Spores.
UseUsed in the fermentation process.Used to make antibiotics.
DiseasesCan cause vaginal infection in humans.Usually the cause of skin diseases like ringworms, and athletes foot.

What is Yeast?

Yeast is a microscopic fungus that is oval in shape and reproduces via budding. Budding is the process where, when a cell is ready to reproduce, it starts growing another tiny cell on its body, this cell then grows till full size and then when it is ready to survive on its own, it breaks off from the parent cell. Yeast is colorless and can be found almost anywhere, like plants, animals, flowers, fruits, trees, etc. Usually, the yeast has a mutually beneficial relationship with living animals and is found to reside on their skin. This mutually beneficial relationship is called symbiosis. However, there are a few types of yeast that can live as a parasite too.

Yeast is very useful in the baking and alcohol industry. This is because they cause fermentation due to their natural biological processes. 

Yeasts use organic substances as a source of their nutrition and growth. These organisms are called chemoorganotrophs. Yeasts can respirate either aerobically or anaerobically, however, for energy production, yeast uses aerobic methods only.

There are yeasts that are pathogenic in nature, which means they can cause infections in the human body if the conditions suffice. People whose immunity is compromised, such as patients of HIV/AIDS can be affected by these pathogenic yeasts, and as a result, get unwanted infections. Usually, the pathogenic yeasts have a strong, thick polysaccharide wall surrounding their cell. This prevents the white blood cells of the body from recognizing the foreign cell, and hence they escape it. However, despite the few yeasts which cause us harm, a majority of them have been found to be useful in the production of various substances as well as contribute to a lot of scientific development.

What is Fungus?

Fungus denotes a kingdom of more than 80,000 different organisms. However, the main characteristics of these organisms are that it can be unicellular or multicellular, and reproduces via spores. Spores are small seed-like objects that can travel using the wind or on the fur of other animals. When it lands in a suitable place, it grows into another fungus. Fungus mostly grows in damp areas, where there might be decaying organic matter to feed on. 

The cell wall of fungi is made up of a material called chitin. Being saprotrophs, fungi absorb the nutrients and necessary substances for sustenance through the cell wall. Fungi are not able to photosynthesize, since they do not have chloroform, and hence they grow on dead or decaying organic matter, which gives them the necessary organic substances required to survive.

Fungi can be found almost anywhere in the world, and quite similar to yeasts, they usually have symbiotic relationships with plants and animals. However, like yeasts, some fungi can also display parasitic behavior.

The practical usage of fungi covers a lot of aspects. Some fungi, like mushrooms, are used as food items. Fungi are also used to create antibiotics and other medicinal substances. The most common fungal diseases humans have due to fungi are skin diseases like ringworms and athletes’ foot.

Main Differences Between Yeast and Fungi

  1. The main difference between yeast and fungus is that yeast is a microscopic organism that is unicellular and reproduces via budding, while fungus can be unicellular or multicellular and reproduces via spores.
  2. Yeast is common and found almost anywhere in nature, while fungi grow mostly in damp places containing dead, decaying organic matter.
  3. Yeasts reproduce by budding, and fungi reproduce via spores.
  4. Yeasts are used in fermentation processes, while fungi are used to make antibiotics.
  5. Yeasts can cause vaginal infections, while fungi cause skin diseases like ringworm and athletes foot.

Conclusion

There are numerous types of living organisms out there in the open world. Each one of them has its own biological and chemical composition and that’s what makes them unique.

Each organism plays an important role in the maintenance and creating a properly balanced ecosystem. Organisms like yeats and fungus have also found a place to do the same. As humans, we should know how to utilize these organisms, while at the same time, maintaining their sustainability.

References

  1. http://genesdev.cshlp.org/content/9/3/local/back-matter.pdf
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature01554