Fungal Fruiting Bodies and Fanatics

August 8th, 2012 by Francis Martin Leave a reply »

In her review of  two recent books, Mushroom (by Nicholas Money) and Mycophilia (by Eugenia Bone) devoted to the standing of mushrooms in nature and in human culture, Linnaea Ostroff wrote a short, but vibrant, description of fungal fruiting bodies and sex in these exciting organisms:

[“Mushrooms are the sex organs of fungi. They are ballistics experts that emerge when the fungus is ready to reproduce, launch spores by the billion, and vanish. Or rather, they puff up and deflate. The sudden appearance of mushroom on a lawn or under a log, like many illusions, is achieved with extensive advance setup and hydraulics. After a spore germinates, it sends filaments out underground in all directions in search of food and other fungi. When two fungal colonies—or three or more, as fungi are substantially less constrained than animals—of the same species meet, their cells merge and their DNA combines in the mushroom version of mating. New spores are produced, and the cells of the future mushroom are organized around them. This process occurs at the tips of the filaments, accounting for mushrooms’ quirk of appearing in rings. When the conditions are right, water rushes in and pressurizes the assembly, swelling the cells and inflating the mushroom. In many species, that takes only a few hours, the spores are soon released, and the mushroom shrivels by sundown. Others survive a week or more, and some tougher forms may last for months.” ]. Read more

‘Mushroom’ by Nicholas P. Money, Oxford University Press, New York, 2011. 221 pp.

Mycophilia. Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms by Eugenia Bone, Rodale, New York, 2011. 368 pp..





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