Difference between Algae and Fungi

Algae and Fungi belong to the class Thallophyte (lower-order plants) of the Kingdom Plantae. Both are plant-like organisms, but they don't have conventional features of a plant such as leaves, stem, or root. Some Algae and Fungi are toxic and some are not. They both are useful for humans. Algae make 70% of the oxygen on Earth. Many aquatic animals depend on algae for their survival. Fungi contribute to reducing environmental pollution and increasing soil quality. Thus, both organisms play a vital role to preserve the balance in an ecosystem.

Go through this article to understand the differences between Algae and Fungi.

What are Algae?

Algae is a group of aquatic organisms capable of performing photosynthesis and making their own food. The term 'alga' means ‘seaweed’. Algae contain Chlorophyll and require large amount of water and sunlight to perform photosynthesis. Hence, though algae share some common characteristics with plants, they are not plants.

Characteristics of Algae

Some prominent characteristics of algae are as follows −

  • They can be either unicellular or multicellular.

  • They contain Chlorophyll.

  • Algae are classified as Autotrophs; means they make their own food.

  • They are found in both kinds of water - sweet water and marine water.

  • They don't look like plants though they have some common characteristics of plants.

  • They can reproduce in both ways: asexual and sexual.

  • They can have unicellular or multicellular structure.

  • Apart from the usual green photosynthetic pigments, algae also have pigments of various colors other than green such as red, yellow, orange, brown, etc. They also can be found in varied shapes.

  • Unlike the higher-order plants, algae lack vascular system that circulates absorbed nutrients throughout their body.

Examples of Algae

The types of algae and their examples are as follows −

  • Multicellular − Giant Kelp, Brown Algae, Blue-Green Algae, Algae bloom often visible on the surface of lakes.

  • Unicellular − Diatoms, Dinoflagellates, Spirogyra, etc.

What are the Usage of Algae?

Algae can produce biofuel or green fuel named 'green diesel' or 'green jet fuel', which is an excellent alternative to fossil fuels that create CO2 on burning.

The following picture depicts the appearance of Algae and Fungi −

What are Fungi?

Fungi is a group of organisms which depend on other living organisms/non-living organic material as a source of their food. The term 'fungus' means ‘sponge’. They do not require sunlight for the supply of nutrition. They don't possess any photosynthetic pigments.

Characteristics of Fungi

Some prominent characteristics of Fungi are −

  • They can be of unicellular or multicellular structure.

  • Fungi are classified as 'Heterotrophs'. Means, they make their food by breaking down decaying organisms and absorbing nutrients from them. Fungi are parasites.

  • Fungi don't possess Chlorophyll hence they don't look green.

  • They lack the vascular system.

  • They don't require water directly.

  • They can reproduce in both ways: asexual and sexual.

  • They can have unicellular or multicellular structure.

Examples of Fungi

Powdery Mildew and Blue-Green Fungi which are often toxic for humans. Some useful Fungi are Edible Mushrooms and Yeast.

What are the Uses of Fungi?

Fungi are used either as food or in food preparation. Edible Mushrooms are regarded as a favorite component in some cousines around the world. They are the source of vitamins B, C, and D, as well as calcium and proteins. Yeast is an inevitable unicellular fungus, which is used in bakery industry for fermentation of dough.

How Do Algae and Fungi Form Symbiotic Relationship?

Some Algae and Fungi can co-live in a win-a-win scene. The hybrid form of both organisms staying together is called a ‘Lichen’. The Algae partner in Lichen provides food to Fungi and the Fungi partner provides shelter to Algae.

Difference between Algae and Fungi

The following table compares and contrasts the prominent features of Algae and Fungi −

Key Factor Algae Fungi
Structure Multicellular Algae are strands of cells connected. Multicellular Fungi are strands of cells connected together (known as hyphae), which resembles branches of tree.
Color They can exist in various colors due to present of various colored photosynthetic pigment in them. They don’t exist in as varied colors as Algae as they lack color pigments.
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic, they are selfdependent as they make their own food. Heterotrophic, they are parasites, as they need to feed on decaying organic matter.
Presence of Chlorophyll Yes, Algae contain chlorophyll. No, Fungi don’t contain chlorophyll.
Requirement of Water They require ample water for survival. They don't require water directly, but they require moisture for decomposing process of their target.
Storage of Food They store food in the form of starch. They store food in the form of oil globules and glycogen.
Enzyme secretion They do not secrete enzymes. They secrete enzymes to be able to digest food.


From the above discussion, we can conclude that Algae and Fungi are organisms that belong to the same class, they both lack conventional structure of plants, they both are vital for the ecosystem, and they both can reproduce asexually. It is also obvious that they are also remarkably different in the way of their structure, appearance, the way they make their food, and their own respective requirements of survival.

Updated on: 29-Sep-2022


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