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Fungal mycelium
Microscopic view of a mycelium.  This image covers a one-millimeter square.
Another microscopic view of a mycelium.  Numbered ticks are 230 µm apart.
Oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) growing on coffee grounds
Mycelium as seen under a log

Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates. A typical single spore germinates into a homokaryotic mycelium, which cannot reproduce sexually; when two compatible homokaryotic mycelia join and form a dikaryotic mycelium; that mycelium may form fruiting bodies such as mushrooms. A mycelium may be minute, forming a colony that is too small to see, or it may be extensive:

Is this the largest organism in the world? This 2,400-acre (9.7 km2) site in eastern Oregon had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it.Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees. Mushroom-forming forest fungi are unique in that their mycelial mats can achieve such massive proportions.

Through the mycelium, a fungus absorbs nutrients from its environment. It does this in a two-stage process. First, the hyphae secrete enzymes onto or into the food source, which break down biological polymers into smaller units such as monomers. These monomers are then absorbed into the mycelium by facilitated diffusion and active transport.

Mycelium is vital in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for their role in the decomposition of plant material. They contribute to the organic fraction of soil, and their growth releases carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. Ectomycorrhizal extramatrical mycelium, as well as the mycelium of Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi increase the efficiency of water and nutrient absorption of most plants and confers resistance to some plant pathogens. Mycelium is an important food source for many soil invertebrates.

"Mycelium", like "fungus", can be considered a mass noun, a word that can be either singular or plural. The term "mycelia", though, like "fungi", is often used as the preferred plural form.

Sclerotia are compact or hard masses of mycelium.

Uses[edit]

One of the primary roles of fungi in an ecosystem is to decompose organic compounds. Petroleum products and some pesticides (typical soil contaminants) are organic molecules (i.e. they are built on a carbon structure), and thereby present a potential carbon source for fungi. Hence, fungi have the potential to eradicate such pollutants from their environment; unless the chemicals prove toxic to the fungus. This biological degradation is a process known as bioremediation.

Mycelial mats have been suggested (see Paul Stamets) as having potential as biological filters, removing chemicals and microorganisms from soil and water. The use of fungal mycelium to accomplish this has been termed mycofiltration.

Knowledge of the relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and plants suggests new ways to improve crop yields.

When spread on logging roads, mycelium can act as a binder, holding new soil in place and preventing washouts until woody plants can be established.

Since 2007, a company called Ecovative Design has been developing alternatives to polystyrene and plastic packaging by growing mycelium in agricultural waste. The two ingredients are mixed together and placed into a mold for 3–5 days to grow into a durable material. Depending on the strain of mycelium used, they make many different varieties of the material including water absorbent, flame retardant, and dielectric.[2]

Fungi are essential for converting biomass into compost, as they decompose feedstock components such as lignin, which many other composting microorganisms cannot.[3] Turning a backyard compost pile will commonly expose visible networks of mycelia that have formed on the decaying organic material within. Compost is an essential soil amendment and fertilizer for organic farming and gardening. Composting can divert a substantial fraction of municipal solid waste from landfill.[4]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stamets, Paul. Mycelium Running, Ten Speed Press, U.S.A. 2005 (p. 45, caption to figure 60)
  2. ^ Kile, Meredith (September 13, 2013). "How to replace foam and plastic packaging with mushroom experiments". Al Jazeera America. 
  3. ^ "Composting - Compost Microorganisms". Cornell University. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Epstein, Eliot (2011). Industrial Composting: Environmental Engineering and Facilities Management. CRC Press. ISBN 143984531X. 

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycelium — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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2029 news items

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Sat, 14 Mar 2015 07:48:45 -0700

Among them, the people behind Mycelium have stood out as consistent creators of quality products. Their Bitcoin Wallet is one of the most widely used mobile wallets and its built-in Local Trader system has been operating for almost a year now, offering ...

Wall Street Journal (blog)

Wall Street Journal (blog)
Mon, 16 Mar 2015 12:16:48 -0700

Honest answer to whether I thought it would take eight years to make another Modest Mouse record? No. People in the band are having kids left and right. I scored two movies which I didn't do overnight. I had other interests. I wanted to learn about ...

The New Yorker

The New Yorker
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 11:40:06 -0700

The normal tabletops have been replaced by slabs of mycelium, the all-natural and biodegradable plastics substitute that Ian Frazier wrote about for this magazine in 2013. On that first evening, even the playlist was reused: over the course of the meal ...

New York Times

New York Times
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:20:59 -0700

“The tables were grown — yes, grown — during the second half of February with compostable materials and mycelium,” read a note on the back of the menu. The walls, meanwhile, were covered by a white fabric draped over crop rows to keep out frost and ...

Nature.com

Nature.com
Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:22:30 -0700

Forest trees are particularly dependent on ectomycorrhizal symbioses, which are characterized by the localization of the mycelium exclusively on the root epidermis. This association is so beneficial for the participants that it appears to have emerged ...
 
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Wed, 11 Feb 2015 05:51:21 -0800

Dreske explains that the email cited "violation of the paid and free provision of the Content Policy and section 3.5 of the Developer Distribution Agreement" and referred Mycelium to a Third Party Payments help centre article. The Content Policy states ...

BBC News

BBC News
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 22:17:25 -0700

Created by Ecovative, they are made out of high-performing biocomposite material - which uses fungal mycelium, the root-like structure of a mushroom. It means that agricultural waste products can be glued together into products - which can then be ...

Popular Science

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Wed, 25 Mar 2015 10:37:30 -0700

This design file was sent to biomaterials company Ecovative Design, which fabricated the drone body from an 8-inch square of fungal mycelium via vacuforming. Then Ecovative filled this mold with biomaterial: straw and dead leaves. “The biomaterial gets ...
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