Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Fungus Among Us

Suspected Chlorophyllum molybdites, or false parasol


Have you seen the toadstools and other fungus popping up everywhere after the heavy rains we have had? These are the sexual organs of a much larger organism. The fungus that lives in our yards benefits the soil by decomposing leaves and wood.
There are two stages of growth before a mushroom completes its life cycle. The first stage takes place underground, requires weeks to complete and involves the formation of proto-mushroom. Known as the pin stage, it is a period where mushrooms live in the form of tiny buttons in the mycelium layer, and are hidden from view, usually under the grass, leaves, or under the bark of a dead tree. These buttons are tight bound structures, similar to a compressed, dried sponge that can expand rapidly when exposed to enough water.

The second stage of growth begins with water intake once the moisture level is high enough. The mycelium draws in huge amount of water expanding the button and spearheads the fruiting of the mushroom. Mycelium is highly absorbent, but its nutrient and water transporting capabilities are inversely related with distance. Thus for mushrooms to survive, many little fruiting bodies and a wet day or heavy dew-fall is needed. 

 Sanusi, Mohd Salleh & Mansor, Patahayah. (2016). WHY MUSHROOMS GROW AFTER RAIN. https://www.frim.gov.my/v1/fif/pdf_file/FIF-Mac2016-Web.pdf

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