Underwater or aquatic fungi include all those fungi that exist transiently in water, species that live wholly in water and terrestrial fungi that release and disperse spores in water. Underwater fungi live in both freshwater and the ocean and are found in rivers, estuaries, swamps and transient pools that form after a spell of rain.
Underwater fungus play specialized roles in water. They act as decomposers of aquatic organic material (such as leaves) and twigs.
Ingoldian fungi are found in freshwater ponds and streams. The fungus is named after CT.
Ingold, the mycologist who first isolated and described them in detail. Ingoldian fungi contribute to the food chain by feeding on leaves that fall in water.
They release spores that get trapped in bubbles and appear as foam floating over water. This fungus originates as a terrestrial endophytes but is soon colonized to form hyphomycetes (with spores).
Chytrid Fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis)
Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, or chytrid frog fungi, belongs to the chytrids division of the diverse fungi kingdom. This fungus grows on the skin of amphibians (frogs and toads typically) and produces spores that it releases in water.
This parasitic fungus is known to cause cutaneous mycosis--infection of the skin. It survives in mud and water and is spread by vehicles, muddy boots and cattle.
The mold forming leptomitus lacteus is found in wastewater such as sewage waste. The magazine “Science” has reported research being conducted in the application of leptomitus lacteus for wastewater treatment and sewage management.
It is able to denitrify at a faster rate than bacteria and is resistant to inhibitory chemicals. The fungus is an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional bacterial based nitrogen removal systems.
Leptomitus lacteus has numerous distinct advantages over bacteria. It completes denitrification in a single step as opposed to bacteria, which goes through a two-step nitrification process.
The leptomitus lacteus fungi offers greater resistance to bacteria than chemical inhibitors and industrial effluents found in wastewater. It is also resistant to metal waste.
Pythium, or water mold, is a sub category of a parasitic branch of fungi, and is known to cause pythium root rot--a crop disease. Pythium prefers conditions of increased humidity and is prevalent on the surface of running water.
The pythium insidiosum species of phythium is known to infect mammals including horses and indoor pets such as cats.