mushroom biology

truffler1635 at truffler1635 at
Mon Oct 30 08:54:11 EST 2000

In article <pgpmoose.200010192223.14412 at>,
  psilkworm <dejamyass at> wrote:
> I need a detailed introduction to the life cycle and biology of
> mushrooms.  Specifically, I have noticed that some mushroom species
> like eating wood,
These are called saprophytes.
 and others like to eat grains/cow poop.
Fungi which inhabit feces are called coprophytes.
A vast variety of fungi, both saprophytes and coprophtes, are often
started on sterlized grains such as wheat berries or millet.
  Are these
> two separate classifications of fungus some kind of scientific
> difference?
Kind of: some can be grown on sterilized grain supplemented with cereal
bran. Others can't. It has to do more with how they have already been
cultivated. The vast majority of fungi known have never been cultivated
at this time.
  or is it arbitrary?  Do mushrooms like to eat all
> different kinds of things equally, or are these two classes I mentioned
> the general rule.
Actually, for the past 150-250 years, the body of evidence has simply
classified fungi from where they were found: woods, on "poop", on the
ground, etc.
  Is there a name for these two classes of mushrooms?
> Now, once I figure that stuff out, I need to learn how mushrooms live.
> What do they consume and excrete on a chemical level?
Different fungi "eat" different things. If we knew what each one "eats",
more fungi would already have been cultivated.
  What are their
> metabolic and respiratory processes.
Many digest the cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin of woody cell walls
by exuding digestive enzymes, then reabsorb the sugars/starches released
by the degradation.
  If these processes change at
> different stages of the life-cycle(mycellial colonization/fruiting),
> then what are those changes?  Where is a resource online or in print
> that contains answers (in laymans terms) to all of these questions?
You are actually asking for very detailed information. I'm afraid you are
going to _have_ to learn the language of mycology in order to understand
that information. Good luck: it has taken me about 15 years as a
"layperson" to get the stage I'm at now.

Here are some source books that should help you in your search. Some are
more readable than others. Most have at least some information which is
no longer true. Research in this area is progressing very rapidly, as
more and more fungi become more readily available in local supermarkets.


Chang and Hayes. The Biology and Cultivation of Edible Mushrooms.
Academic Press.

Aurora, David. Mushrooms Demystified. Ten Speed Press.


Stamets and Chilton. THE MUSHROOM GROWERS HANDBOOK. Ten Speed Press.

There is at least one other major mushroom category you haven't
mentioned: mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi help plants grow, and in
general, contain the most expensive and hard to cultivate fungi in the
world, such as: Cantharellus (chanterelles), truffles (Tubers,
Leucangium, Leucophleps, Barssia, Terfezia and others), Boletes, Suillus,
Russulas, Cortinarius, Hymenogaster, Rhizopogons, Alpovas, etc. In
general, these fungi produce ectomycorrhiza, a symbiotic relationship
between fungi and trees, where the trees get water, phosphorus, nitrogen,
potassium and other trace elements; and the fungi get simple sugars which
allow them to grow through the soil.

Dr. William Dennison of Oregon State University has noted that many
mycorrhizal fungi are killed by direct exposure to ultraviolet light.
Thus, these fungi may form complex symbiotic relationships not just with
trees, but also with plants and shrubs. Ideally, a forest contains three
levels of light interference, which provides the maximum protection from
UV light: crown canopy trees, shrubs, and forbes and woody plants.

Daniel B. Wheeler

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