Fungi are not able to ingest food like animals, nor are they able to produce their own food like plants. They feed by absorbing nutrients from the environment around them. Some fungi are saprophytic, meaning that they feed on dead or decaying material. Rhizopus and Penicillium are two fungal genera that contain species that mainly follow the saprophytic feeding method.
What is Rhizopus?
Rhizopus is a genus of saprophytic and parasitic fungi that belongs to the class Zygomycetes and phylum Zygomycota. Rhizopus species are mainly found in moist or damp places. These species are also known as bread mould. They are also found in organic substances like vegetables, fruits, bread, and jellies. Their asexual reproduction is characterized by a vegetative structure, which is multinucleated (coenocytic) and branched hyphae. They are also classified by the production of Zygospores during sexual reproduction.
Rhizopus species are used to produce various chemicals and alcoholic products. Some known species include Rhizopus stolonifer (used in the production of chemicals such as cortisone, fumaric acid, etc.), Rhizopus oryzae (used to produce alcoholic beverages), Rhizopus delemar (used to produce biotin and fumaric acid) and Rhizopus microspores (used to produce fermented soybean products). Furthermore, Rhizopus species help in nutrient development in the soil, are capable of nitrogen fixation, and inhibit certain toxigenic fungi. They have also been proven to reduce carcinogenesis in rats and give protection to piglets by inhibiting E. coli bacteria. However, some species of Rhizopus cause plant diseases (fruit rot disease, soft rot in sweet potatoes, etc.) and may also cause human infections such as mucormycosis.
What is Penicillium?
Penicillium is a genus of saprophytic fungi that belongs to the class Ascomycetes and phylum Ascomycota. Penicillium species can be found in environments such as soil, decaying vegetation, compost, wood, dried food, spices, cereals, fresh fruit, and vegetables, on building material in water-damaged environments, indoor air, and dust. Penicillium species reproduce asexually through conidiophores, and during sexual reproduction, they produce ascospores.
Some members of this genus produce an antibiotic known as penicillin, which kills or stops the growth of certain kinds of bacteria. Other species are used in cheese making. Furthermore, some Penicillium species cause economically important blue mould disease in fruits and vegetables and food poisoning in humans due to the production of a mycotoxin called patulin.
What are the Similarities Between Rhizopus and Penicillium?
- Rhizopus and Penicillium are two fungal genera that contain species that mainly follow the saprophytic feeding method.
- Both genera contain species that show both asexual and sexual reproduction.
- They contain species that tend to live in damped watery environments.
- Both genera contain species that cause plant-animal diseases.
- Moreover, both genera contain species that are industrially very useful.
What is the Difference Between Rhizopus and Penicillium?
Rhizopus is a genus of saprophytic and parasitic fungi that belongs to the class Zygomycetes, while Penicillium is a genus of saprophytic fungi that belongs to the class Ascomycetes. Thus, this is the key difference between Rhizopus and Penicillium. Furthermore, Rhizopus species are mainly found in moist or damp places and on organic substances like vegetables, fruits, bread, and jellies, while Penicillium species are mainly found in environments such as soil, on decaying vegetation, compost, wood, dried food, spices, cereals, fresh fruit, vegetables, building material in water damaged environments, indoor air and dust.
The below infographic presents the differences between Rhizopus and Penicillium in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Rhizopus vs Penicillium
Rhizopus and Penicillium are two fungal genera. These genera contain species that mainly follow the saprophytic feeding method. The species in these genera have common features such as asexual and sexual reproduction, living in damped, watery environments, pathogenic, etc. Moreover, these species are also industrially very helpful. However, Rhizopus is a genus of the class Zygomycetes, while Penicillium is a genus of the class Ascomycetes. So, this is the key difference between Rhizopus and Penicillium.
1. “Rhizopus clonal sporangia” By Curtis Clark – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “04 03 21 conidiophores, Aspergillus, Penicillium, Eurotiales, Ascomycota (M. Piepenbring)” By Prof. M. Piepenbring – (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia