Difference Between Mycelia and Hyphae (With Table)

Mycelia and hyphae are two parts of a fungus that are interlinked with each other and often their separate meaning is lost to the readers. But their differences are based on the vital roles that each play in the life of a fungus.

Mycelia vs Hyphae

The main difference between mycelia and hyphae is that mycelia work on a macro level while hyphae on a micro-level. Mycelia are a collection of hyphae whereas hyphae are branched structures that help in nutrient absorption.

Another key difference between the two is that mycelia form the vegetative part of the fungus whereas hyphae form the filamentous part. Hyphae are also sometimes regarded as the building blocks of a fungus.

Mycelia are white thread-like structures that are formed by the collective hyphae whereas hyphae are filamentous structures that are divided into cells by intercross walls called Septa.

A crucial difference between Mycelia and hyphae is that mycelia reproduce asexually with the help of spores and sexually in the form of dikaryotic mycelia whereas hyphae grow with the help of spitzenkorper vesicles.


Comparison Table Between Mycelia and Hyphae

Parameter of Comparison



Functional level

Macro level

Micro level


Sexual and asexual reproduction

With the help of small vesicles called spitzenkorper


White patch of thread-like structures

Thread like filaments

Part of the plant

Vegetative part

Filamentous part


Homokaryotic and dikaryotic mycelia

Septate and aseptate hyphae


What is Mycelia?

Mycelia are the vegetative part of a fungus that has a white patch like appearance. They are formed by coming together of the filamentous hyphae and form a cotton ball-like structure that is found on or in the soil.

Homokaryotic mycelia reproduce asexually from spores. When two compatible homokaryotic mycelia come together they form a dikaryotic mycelium which is capable of reproducing sexually.

The sexual reproduction of dikaryotic mycelia results in the formation of fruits and other fungi that grow above the ground.

Mycelia are responsible for the absorption of nutrients in fungus and their survival. Mycelia usually grow outwards in a circular form and as it grows outwards the insides are left to die since they are depleted of the nutrients.

As mycelia grow, they require new fill of nutrients constantly, and to facilitate absorption of nutrients through their pores, they release certain enzymes that breakdown the complex carbohydrate and proteins into simpler ones.

These highly branched structures grow and tend to move towards moist areas to sustain their survival while constantly breaking down and absorbing nutrients along the way.


What are Hyphae?

Hyphae are referred to as the building blocks of a fungus. They are the filamentous structures that grow into the soil and release enzymes to breakdown nutrients and absorb them to feed the rest of the fungus.

These white branched masses spread over the ground and penetrate deep into its substrate to facilitate nutrient conversion. As hyphae mostly work on the micro-level, it is not visible to the naked eye unless it accumulates and forms mycelia.

Hyphae are separated by septa or septum into cells and they grow along the tip with the help of small vesicles called the spitzenkorper. The cells of hyphae are enveloped by rigid cell walls that protect it from harsh weather.

The spitzenkorper, German for a pointed body accumulates at the tip of the hyphae to stimulate its growth. The growth of the hyphae is also governed by environmental factors such as sunlight, moist ground, and availability of nutrients.

The hyphae that are separated by septa are called septate hyphae and the ones that are missing the septum are called aseptate hyphae. The septa are porous in nature and help to pass on the absorbed nutrients along the hyphae.

Main Differences Between Mycelia and Hyphae

  1. The main difference between mycelia and hyphae is that mycelia work on a macro level while hyphae work on a micro-level penetrating the substrate and facilitating absorption.
  2. Another key difference is that mycelia form the vegetative part of the fungus whereas hyphae form the filamentous part.
  3. Mycelia reproduce either sexually or asexually with the help of spore formation while hyphae multiply with the help of spitzenkorper.
  4. Mycelia look like a white patch or a cotton ball whereas hyphae are a thread-like filamentous structure that is almost invisible to the eye.
  5. Mycelia may be divided into two types, homokaryotic and dikaryotic while hyphae are either septate or aseptate.



Mycelia and hyphae may form parts of the same fungi but have many differences that make them particularly suited for their individual functions.

The main difference is that mycelia work at a macroscopic level while hyphae work at a microscopic level. Hyphae are not visible to the naked eyes and their main function is to penetrate deep into the substrates to deliver the enzymes that break them into smaller molecules.

However, mycelium is formed by the collective hyphae group together, which further forms the vegetative part of the fungus whereas hyphae form the filamentous part of the fungus that is responsible for passing on the nutrients to other parts of the fungus.

This vegetative part further reproduces sexually to form other fungi such as mushrooms or fruits that grow above the ground.

Another crucial difference between the two is that mycelia grow spores and reproduces asexually while hyphae’s growth is modulated by the small vesicles called the spitzenkorper that help elongate hyphae at its tip.

Mycelium may look like a patch of white mass on the ground or a white ball of cotton whereas hyphae have a thread-like appearance that grows into filaments of the fungi.

Mycelium is divided into types such as the homokaryotic and dikaryotic mycelium on the contrary hyphae may be classified into septate and aseptate depending on the presence and absence of septa that divide the filament of hyphae into cells.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0966842X0400023X
  2. https://www.microbiologyresearch.org/content/journal/micro/10.1099/00221287-81-1-225?crawler=true&mimetype=application/pdf