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What is the Difference Between Holobasidium and Phragmobasidium?

What is Holobasidium?

  • Holobasidium refers to a specific structure found within certain fungi, characterized by its single-celled, non-segmented nature. This club-shaped cellular structure plays a crucial role in the reproductive process of these fungi, facilitating the development and release of spores. One of the defining features of a holobasidium is the presence of four sterigmata, which are small projections that support the developing spores.
  • Within the category of holobasidium, there exist two distinct types, namely chiastobasidium and stichobasidium. The primary difference between these types lies in the orientation of microtubules within the basidium. In chiastobasidium, microtubules are arranged in a perpendicular fashion relative to the basidium’s long axis, whereas in stichobasidium, the arrangement is parallel.
  • The shape of a basidium is typically likened to that of a club, with a gradual widening towards the outer end and a narrower connection at the stem. The broadest part is often described as a middle hemispherical dome. However, variations in shape do exist within different genera, such as Paullicorticium, Oliveonia, and Tulasnella, where basidia can resemble an inverted egg or even adopt a barrel-like form with a broad base.

What is Basidium?

  • A basidium is a microscopic structure instrumental in the reproductive cycle of Basidiomycota fungi, serving as a sporangium or spore-producing organ. Found primarily within the hymenophore of a fungus’s fruiting body, basidia play a crucial role in spore formation and dispersal, a defining characteristic of this fungal division.
  • The development of basidia occurs within the tertiary mycelium, an advanced stage of fungal growth that evolves from the secondary mycelium. This tertiary mycelium is dikaryotic, meaning it contains two distinct nuclei in each cell, which is a result of the fusion of two compatible fungal hyphae.
  • Basidia typically give rise to four basidiospores, although this number can range between two to eight in some species. These spores are borne on slender projections called sterigmata and are released into the environment when mature, a process that is often forceful to aid in their dispersal.
  • Morphologically, basidia are commonly club-shaped, with a broader apex and a narrower base. Before reaching maturity, these structures are referred to as basidioles. Based on their cellular composition, basidia can be categorized into two types: holobasidia, which are single-celled, and phragmobasidia, which consist of multiple cells.

What is Phragmobasidium?

  • Phragmobasidium refers to a type of basidium characterized by its septate, or partitioned, structure. This means that the basidium is divided into distinct cells by cross-walls, known as septa. Such a configuration is notably present in the rust fungi belonging to the order Puccinales, where the basidium comprises four cells, each separated by these cross-sectional walls. The arrangement of these cells often resembles a cross shape.
  • In addition to rust fungi, certain jelly fungi within the order Tremellales also exhibit a similar septate structure in their basidia, with walls arranged in a cross-like pattern. This structural feature is significant as it distinguishes phragmobasidia from other types of basidia, such as holobasidia, which are not septate and consist of a single cell.
  • The presence of phragmobasidium is a critical trait for the identification and classification of certain fungal groups. Understanding this structure is important for those studying fungal biology and ecology, as it provides insights into the diversity of reproductive strategies among fungi and helps in the identification of various fungal orders and species.

Difference Between Holobasidium and Phragmobasidium

Holobasidium and Phragmobasidium are two distinct types of basidia, which are reproductive structures found in fungi belonging to the division Basidiomycota. These structures play a crucial role in the life cycle of these fungi, particularly in spore production and dispersal. Understanding the differences between these two types of basidia is essential for mycologists and those interested in fungal biology. Here’s a comparative overview:


  • Structure: Holobasidium is a non-septate basidium, meaning it lacks internal cross-walls or septa, and is comprised of a single cell.
  • Shape: Typically, it has a club-like shape, wider at the top and narrower at the base.
  • Spore Attachment: It usually bears four sterigmata, which are projections from the basidium that hold the developing spores.
  • Types: There are variations within holobasidia, such as chiastobasidium, where microtubules are arranged perpendicular to the basidium’s long axis, and stichobasidium, with microtubules parallel to the long axis.
  • Occurrence: Holobasidia are common in many Basidiomycota fungi, including mushrooms, puffballs, and bracket fungi.


  • Structure: Phragmobasidium is a septate basidium, characterized by the presence of internal cross-walls or septa that divide it into multiple cells.
  • Shape: The shape can vary, but it is often described as resembling a cross due to the arrangement of the septa.
  • Spore Attachment: Like holobasidia, phragmobasidia bear sterigmata for spore development, but the number and arrangement can be influenced by the septate structure.
  • Types: Phragmobasidia are particularly notable in rust fungi (order Puccinales) and some jelly fungi (order Tremellales), where the septate nature is a key identifying feature.
  • Occurrence: They are less common than holobasidia and are specific to certain groups of fungi, such as the rusts and jelly fungi.

Key Differences:

  1. Cellularity: Holobasidium is single-celled (non-septate), while Phragmobasidium is multicellular (septate).
  2. Internal Structure: The presence of septa in Phragmobasidium divides it into multiple cells, in contrast to the single-cell structure of Holobasidium.
  3. Fungal Association: Holobasidia are found in a broader range of Basidiomycota fungi, whereas Phragmobasidia are characteristic of specific groups like rust and jelly fungi.
  4. Reproductive Strategy: The structural differences may reflect variations in reproductive strategies between fungi with holobasidia and those with phragmobasidia.
StructureNon-septate (single-celled)Septate (multicellular, divided by cross-walls)
ShapeTypically club-shapedOften cross-shaped due to septa
Spore AttachmentBears four sterigmata for spore developmentBears sterigmata, number and arrangement can vary
TypesIncludes chiastobasidium and stichobasidiumNotable in rust fungi (Puccinales) and some jelly fungi (Tremellales)
OccurrenceCommon in many Basidiomycota fungi (e.g., mushrooms, puffballs)Specific to certain groups like rust and jelly fungi
CellularitySingle-celled due to lack of septaMulticellular due to presence of septa
Fungal AssociationFound in a broader range of Basidiomycota fungiCharacteristic of specific fungal groups
Reproductive StrategyReflects a more generalized reproductive mechanism in BasidiomycotaMay indicate specialized reproductive strategies in certain fungi

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