While some moulds (Penicillium, Aspergillus) can utilize almost any organic food-materials, other fungi are more restricted in their choice - e.g.
Among the enzymes already extracted from fungi are invertases (yeasts, moulds, &c.), which split cane-sugar and other complex sugars with hydrolysis into simpler sugars such as dextrose and levulose; diastases, which convert starches into sugars (Aspergillus, &c.); cytases, which dissolve cellulose similarly (Botrytis, &c.); peptases, using the term as a general one for all enzymes which convert proteids into peptones and other bodies (Penicillium, &c.); lipases, which break up fatty oils (Empusa, Phycomyces, &c.); oxydases, which bring about the oxidations and changes of colour observed in Boletus, and zymase, extracted by Buchner from yeast, which brings about the conversion of sugar into alcohol and carbondioxide.
That such enzymes are formed in the protoplasm is evident from the behaviour of hyphae, which have been observed to pierce cell-membranes, the chitinous coats of insects, artificial collodion films and layers of wax, &c. That a fungus can secrete more than one enzyme, according to the materials its hyphae have to attack, has been shown by the extraction of diastase, inulase, trehalase, invertase, maltase, raffinase, malizitase, emulsin, trypsin and lipase from Aspergillus by Bourquelot, and similar events occur in other fungi.
Although many fungi have been regarded as devoid of nuclei, and all have not as yet been proved to contain them, the numerous investigations of recent years have revealed them in the cells of all forms thoroughly examined, and we are justified in concluding that the nucleus is as essential to the cell of a fungus as to that of other organisms. The hyphae of many contain numerous, even hundreds of nuclei (Phycomycetes); those of others have several (Aspergillus) in each segment, or only two (Exoascus) or one (Erysiphe) in each cell.
Or the primary hypha y first swell at its apex, and put forth a series of short peg-like branches (sterigmata) from the increased surface thus provided, each of which develops a similar basipetal chain of conidia (Aspergillus), and various combinations of these processes result in the development of numerous varieties of exquisitely branched sporophores of this type (Botrytis, Botryosporium, Verticillium, &c.).
The Perisporiaceae are saprophytic forms, the two chief genera being Aspergillus and Penicillium.