The discoveries that some species of nitrifying bacteria and perhaps pigmented forms are capable of carbon-assimilation, that others can fix free nitrogen and that a number of decompositions hitherto unsuspected are accom fished by Schizomycetes have ut thequestions of P Y Y, P d nutrition and fermentation in quite new lights.
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.
In addition to the above, however, certain Schizomycetes present aggregates in the form of plates, or solid or hollow and irregular branched colonies.
The fact that Schizomycetes produce spores appears to have been discovered by Cohn in 1857, though it was expressed dubiously in 1872; these spores had no doubt been observed previously.
Long before any clear ideas as to the relations of Schizomycetes to fermentation and disease were possible, various thinkers at different times had suggested that resemblances existed between the phenomena of certain diseases and those of fermentation, and the idea that a virus or contagium might be something of the nature of a minute organism capable of spreading and 1 Cladothrix dichotoma, for example, which is ordinarily a branched, filamentous, sheathed form, at certain seasons breaks up into a number of separate cells which develop a tuft of cilia and escape from the sheath.
In the two last-mentioned characters and in their manner of division the bacteria resemble Schizophyceae (Cyanophyceae or blue-green algae), and the two groups of Schizophyceae and Schizomycetes are usually united in the class Schizophyta, to indicate the generally received view that most of the typical bacteria have been derived from the Cyanophyceae.
Similarly we are unable to divide Schizomycetes sharply into parasites and saprophytes, since it is well proved that a number of species - facultative parasites - can become one or the other according to circumstances.
The schizomycetes or bacteria are minute vegetable organisms devoid of chlorophyll and multiplying by repeated bipartitions.
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.