Time of harvesting (corrected copy)

Moselio Schaechter mschaech at SUNSTROKE.SDSU.EDU
Sun Dec 29 20:06:38 EST 1996

Regarding the issue of the effect of picking mushrooms, "DanielG979", in
mentioning fairy ring mushrooms, uses perhaps the worst possible example.
It seems obvious that fairy rings grow by extension of the mycelium, not by
spore dispersal.  Thus, in this case at least, picking fruiting bodies may
well have a negligible effect, just as when a lawn mower cuts the flowers
of grass on a lawn.

On a larger scale, both geographic and temporal, the role of spores vs.
mycelial extension seems to be wide open.  Spore dispersal has an obvious
appeal, based on the fact that fungi have evolved a great variety of
mechanisms to ensure that this happens.  As CT Ingold  points out in the
introduction to his classic "The Fungal Spore" (Clarendon Press, 1971),
dispersal (by spores or otherwise) is not needed only for geographic
extension but also for promoting genetic variability.  The issue is
beclouded by the fact that many (most) mushroom make uninucleate haploid
spores (see Jacobson & Miller, 1994, Mycologia 86:511-516 for a fascinating
piece of work dealing with binucleate basidiospores in Suillus granulatus).
For species that depend on making heterokaryon for fruiting body
development, spore dispersal over wide areas may not readily lead to
mushroom formation.

To determine experimentally if mushroom picking has a long range,
evolutionary effect on a species seems beyond the scope of most research in
this field.  I would appreciate any information regarding studies that deal
with this question directly.

        Elio Schaechter

   At 1:30 PM 12/29/96, DanielG979 wrote:
>I am posting the following correction thanks to editing provided by David
>W. Fischer, Co-author, "Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America" and
>"Mushrooms of Northeastern North America".  Thank you  Professor Fischer,
>I deeply appreciate your contributions to mycology and mycophagy and
>especially would like to know your current opinions on the Time of
>Harvesting and its effect on future populations.  This is a subject of
>great debate in the S.F. bay area because of the proliferation of gourmet
>restaurants and the paucity of employment.  Many homeless types are
>becoming mushroom gatherers and the papers are publicizing amateur
>mycology.  My own observation is that the mycophile envoronment is
>deteriorating rapidly due to an absence of clearly stated gathering
>policies from expert authorities.  What are your thoughts on this?
>The corrected text:
>"It all comes down to whether or not the spores are allowed to emerge
>before harvesting in my view.  Picking fruiting bodies before they are
>allowed to release their spores will greatly inhibit certain species
>especially those found in fields; especially fairy rings, with lesser
>effects indecomposers such as the oyster.  Even then it would seem that
>opportunities for new infestations in unaffected trees would be reduced if
>mature spores were not released to fall on the newer trees. A very long
>view of time is necessary to give this the attention it merits.  Fairy
>rings can be found over 600 years old.  It is a shame to disrupt such a
>miraculous process.   If you can't make a spore print with a field
>mushroom you should wait until it will make one before you pick it, making
>sure the partial veil has dropped and the circumference of the cap has
>turned upward to stretch the basidia to release the spores.  Harvesting is
>exact a discipline as identification.  Your picking of a coprinus needs to
>be nearly perfect, preferably with cooking utensils in your pack and a
>fire ready to start!
>Michael Jordan    astrograph at juno.com

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