Fairy rings and spores

Keithfungi keithfungi at aol.com
Mon Dec 30 17:32:13 EST 1996

Hi folks. Just thought I'd stick in my two cents worth. There is an easy
way in which to test the alternative hypotheses being offered in this
group for the extension of fairy-rings: test for heterozygosity (or for
dikaryons heteroallelism) using molecular probing techniques. If the
mycelium hypothesis is correct, an expanding fairy ring should have a
constant level of heterozygosity over time: it is essentially one organism
throughout its life. If the spore hypothesis is correct the amount of
heterozygosity should decline with time, as the new spores fall to the
substrate, grow, fuse etc. Each new dikaryon formed this way is a new
genetic individual, and will most likely be highly inbred, and thus
homozygotic for virtually every gene , except for the genes tightly linked
to the mating-type loci. Several probes are available, including
generalized "fingerprinting" probes which should provide the necessary
data (Tom Harrington's group has developed some of these).
Should provide a nice litle project for a real "blotter" out there.......
As for the harvesting question: It is difficult to judge the rarity of a
fungus by the appearance of its fruiting bodies. Some fungi just don't
fruit very often. Roy Watkins of Edinborough has documented cases of fungi
which were reported once,then  absent in Britain for 100 years before
being seen again. The same is true elsewhere. Also, tghe number of spores
produced by any given fruiting body so greatly exceeds the number of
successful spores that one needs to wonder what the rate-limiting step in
reproduction is: sporulation OR the production (by other often non-biotic
means) of suitable habitat. Fungi which reproduce at just tje right time
to be in sync with the environment might not need to produce many spores
at all, but the production of lots of spores at the wrong time does
nothing either. Of course, its hard to tell what the right time is.....
Generally, I tend to pick only ripe fruits that are shedding spores
(except for Coprinus, of course!)
Keith Klein
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Mankato State University
Mycology class offered spring quarter. Learn where the morels are!

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