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(pl. hyphae)

A delicate filament in fungi many of which may form either a loose network (mycelium) or a tightly packed interwoven mass of pseudoparenchyma, as in the fruiting body of mushrooms. Hyphae may be branched or unbranched and may or may not possess cross walls. The cell wall consists of either fungal cellulose or a nitrogenous compound called chitin. The cell wall is lined with cytoplasm, which often contains oil globules and glycogen, and there is a central vacuole. The hyphae produce enzymes that in parasitic fungi digest the host tissue, and in saprotrophic fungi digest dead organic matter.

Subjects: Biological Sciences.

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