The Saccharomycetes belong to that division of the Thallophyta called the Hyphomycetes or Fungi (q.v.).
Thallophyta are the most lowly organized plants and include a great variety of forms, the vegetative portion of which consists of a single cell or a number of cells forming a more or less branched thallus.
The Bryophyta and Pteridophyta have sprung from the higher Thallophyta, and together form the larger group Archegoniatae, so-called from the form of the organ (archegonium) in which the egg-cell is developed.
Thallophyta.The simplest members of both the Algae and the Fungi (q.v.) (the two divisions of the Thailophyta, which is the lowest of the four great groups into which the plant-kingdom is divided) have their bodies each composed of a single cell.
Moreover, had the evolution of plants proceeded along the line of adaptation, the vegetable kingdom could not be subdivided, as it is, into the morphological groups Thallophyta, Bryophyta, Pteridophyta, Phanerogamia, but only into physiological groups, Xerophyta, Hygrophyta, Tropophyta, &c.
The development of the compound microscope rendered possible the accurate study of their life-histories; and the publication in 1851 of the results of Wilhelm Hofmeister's researches on the comparative embryology of the higher Cryptogamia shed a flood of light on their relationships to each other and to the higher plants, and supplied the basis for the distinction of the great groups Thallophyta, Bryophyta, Pteridophyta and Phanerogamae, the last named including Gymnospermae and Angiospermae.
Fungi Algae Bryophyta Pteridophyta Phanerogamia Gymnosperms Angiosperms Algae in this wide sense may be briefly described as the aggregate of those simpler forms of plant life usually devoid, like the rest of the Thallophyta, of differentiation into root, stem and leaf; but, unlike other Thallophyta, possessed of a colouring matter;.
It is true that certain Bryophyta (Marchantiaceae, Anthoceroteae) possess a thalloid structure similar to that of Thallophyta, and are at the same time possessed of the colouring matter of the Green Algae.
Similarly, while Diatomaceae may be excluded from among Phaeophyceae, though retained among algae, the Cryptomonadaceae and Peridiniaceae, like Euglena and other Chlorophyceae, may be excluded from Thallophyta and ranged among the flagellate Protozoa.
And since this rule has been found to hold good for all the archegoniate series and also for the flowering plants where, however, the gametophyte generation has become so extremely reduced as to be only with difficulty discerned, it is natural that when alternation of generation is stated to occur in any group of Thallophyta it should be required that the cytological evidence should support the view.