It was formerly the custom to include with the Fungi the Schizomycetes or Bacteria, and the Myxomycetes or Mycetozoa; but the peculiar mode of growth and division, the cilia, spores and other peculiarities of the former, and the emission of naked amoeboid masses of protoplasm, which creep and fuse to streaming plasmodia, with special modes of nutrition and spore-formation of the latter, have led to their separation as groups of organisms independent of the true Fungi.
The study of phylogeny has suggested fourteen classes arranged in the following sequence: (1) Bacteria; (2) Cyanophyceae (Blue-green algae); (3) Flagellatae; (4) Myxomycetes (Slime-fungi); (5) Pendineae; (6) Conjugatae; (7) Diatomaceae (Diatoms); (8) Fleteroconteae; (9) Chlorophyceae (Green Algae); (10) Characeae (Stoneworts); (II) Rhodophyceae (Red Algae); (12) Eumycetes (Fungi);
The Mycetozoa or Myxomycetes are a saprophytic group without chlorophyll, of simple structure and isolated position.
Cellulose, the material of which vegetable cell-walls are almost universally composed, at any rate in their early condition, is known to occur, though only seldom, among animal organisms. Such forms as Volvox and the group of the Myxomycetes have been continually referred to both kingdoms, and their true systematic position is still a subject of controversy.
In some cases both the nucleus and the chromatophores may be carried along in the rotating stream, but in others, such as T.Titeila, the chloroplasts may remain motionless iii a non-motile layer of the cytoplasm in direct contact with the cell wall.i Desmids, Diatoms and Oscillaria show creeping movements probably due to the secretion of slime by the cells; the swarmspores and plasmodium of the Myxomycetes exhibit amoehoid movements; and the motile spores of Fungi and Algae, the spermatozoids of mosses, ferns, &c., move by means of delicate prolongations, cilia or flagella cf the protoplast.
Those fungi which are of a dusty nature, and the Myxomycetes or Mycetozoa may, like the lichens, be preserved in small boxes and arranged in drawers.
Observed originally by Engelmann in bacteria, by Stahl in myxomycetes, and by Pfeffer in ferns, mosses, &c., it has now become recognized as a widespread phenomenon.
Forms of which we only know certain stages, such as conidia, pycnidia, &c., and which there are reasons for regarding as merely the corresponding stages of higher forms. Saccardo also included about 400 species of Myxomycetes and 650 of Schizomycetes.
It has been accepted for some time now that the majority of the fungi proper fall into three main groups, the Phycomycetes, Ascomycetes and Basidiomycetes, the Schizomycetes and Myxomycetes (Mycetozoa) being considered as independent groups not coming under the true fungi.
Interpreted in this way, the place of algae in the vegetable kingdom may be shown by means of a table: - ' Myxomycetes Thallophyta.