Characteristic of Saprophyte
What is a saprophyte? A saprophyte is a plant that requires a certain environmental condition to grow. It requires sufficient water in the soil and adequate oxygen in the environment to survive and thrive. Saprophytes cannot grow in anaerobic environments. Their preferred pH level is neutral to slightly acidic. They do not do well in alkaline environments. These conditions must be present for them to thrive.
Saprophytes are organisms that feed on dead matter and decompose it into simpler forms. Some examples of saprophytes include fungi, molds, yeast, and penicillium. Bacteria, however, are not saprophytes, as they decompose diverse organic substances and are not capable of decomposing dead animals. In contrast, vibrio japonicus decomposes polysaccharides to release nitrogen.
The non-vascular fungi in our ecosystems have several roles. First, they contribute to the cycle of nutrients by decomposing dead plant matter. They also ensure that diverse chemical and mineral sources are available. In contrast, vultures do not belong to the saprophyte category, but rather to the saprotroph category. The term saprotroph is from the Greek word troth, meaning “nutrition”.
In opportunistic fungal infections, brown or black-pigmented fungi spread through the intranasal route to the brain. These infections are rare and occur in immunocompromised individuals. Hyalohyphomycosis, on the other hand, is an opportunistic fungal infection characterized by hyaline hyphal elements. Fusarium spp. cause disseminated infections, fungemia, and pneumonia.
Saprophytes can be facultative or obligate. Some forms develop in association with algae, forming lichen. The algal component of the lichen is photosynthetic and the fungal portion plays the reproductive role. Several species of saprophytes multiply by breaking their mycelium, while others are unicelled. Budding is a process in which the papilla of the parent cell divides into two new cells.
Until the 1950s, S. marcescens was thought to be a nonpathogenic saprophyte and was rarely isolated from human patients. But in the last 30 years, an increase in nosocomial infections caused by S. marcescens has led to its recognition as an opportunistic pathogen. Its spread is epidemic-level and it causes a variety of infections.
Because saprophytes live on organic matter, they are omnipresent and have evolved their own survival mechanisms. Some are commensal in human body cavities, while others can metamorphose into invasive forms. Successful treatment depends on accurate identification of the pathogen, early surgical clearance, and appropriate antifungal medications. The infection will likely only become apparent if a patient’s immune system is compromised by steroid therapy, diabetes, or HIV infection.
While vascular plants use vascular tissue for transporting water and minerals, fungi utilize the roots of their hosts to digest food and absorb nutrients. They are also capable of destroying bacteria and viruses. And despite their relatively small size, they play an important role in the ecosystem. The role of fungi in bioremediation is also being investigated. Some species are capable of decomposing diesel oil and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. They can also ingest heavy metals.
Fungal cells contain chitin and cellulose, and some species also have septa, which produce separate compartments in the fungal hyphae. This means that they can live independently or cooperatively with other species. They are also important decomposers and are considered saprophytes. The classification of fungi is based on biochemistry, appearance, and nutritional differences.
Fungal root pathogens can survive as saprophytes in the soil, or as pathogens inside eukaryotic cells. They have different expressions of virulence genes depending on their environment, pH level, carbon source, and salt. These factors play a crucial role in controlling the development of plant pathogens. In particular, reduced pH levels or increased temperature may trigger the transformation from saprophyte to pathogen.
Some fungi reproduce asexually. The fungi produce millions to trillions of spores and disperse them through the air, by hitching a ride on an animal or even releasing their spores. Some fungi can reproduce sexually. They produce spores from the nuclei of one parent and asexually by splitting into two.
In addition to causing plant disease, many fungi are capable of growing in soil or on crop debris. Infective fungi also produce macroconidia, the primary source of inoculum for FHB/ear rot. Infected seeds can transmit the disease systemically. The survival of non-vascular fungi is largely dependent on the moisture level at the site of infection. An optimal moisture level is fifteen degrees Celsius for the spore to develop.
Dermatophytes, on the other hand, use keratin to grow. These fungi typically cause skin, nail, and hair infections, and they can be spread through direct contact or indirectly by fomites. Dermatophytes can cause a variety of conditions including skin ulcers, but most infections are caused by saprophyte fungi. The symptoms of dermatophytes vary from one individual to another, but if symptoms persist, the infection can be treated with antifungals.