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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 (see carbon cycle). 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.

3400 news items

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Wandersleb, whose Mycelium has officially committed to integrating Segregated Witness once rolled out, acknowledged the importance of the innovation. “Segregated Witness is not a block size increase, but a technical necessity to fix completely ...

The Merkle (blog)

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Making Bitcoin more convenient remains the highest priority for any company venturing into the world of digital currency today. Mycelium is the most popular Bitcoin wallet for Android users, and the seamless integration of this service into the Cashila ...

Albany Business Review

Albany Business Review
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 10:56:37 -0800

... plastic and engineered-wood products. A mushroom material called mycelium is used as glue to hold the stalks and leaves together in a mold. The molds range from packaging used to protect Dell laptops to the backs of office chairs and can be composted.

EcoWatch

EcoWatch
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 09:15:00 -0800

She takes crop waste—a mixture of corn stalks and seed husks—and injects it with the liquid mushroom mycelium. This “mulch-like material” is then placed in the mold, where it takes four to seven days to grow. After it's done growing, Trofe simply ...

Nature.com

Nature.com
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 02:41:15 -0800

However, comprehensive studies on chemical constituents of individual mycelium are still absent. Currently, nucleosides, mannitol and amino acids which are not specific constituents of either mycelia or wild Cordyceps were used as markers for the ...

New Post Leader

New Post Leader
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 04:25:20 -0800

Mycelium develops inside the timber and breaks down the wood for food. The timber may darken in colour and develop a characteristic cracked appearance. Some wet rots may result in bleaching of the wood, and these are more common in doors and ...

Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska Dispatch News
Sun, 31 Jan 2016 09:08:09 -0800

If mushrooms are the above-ground “fruit” of fungus, mycelium is its hollow branching root-like network underground. The scientists used mycelium from a very common white-rot fungus; you could find some growing on trees in your own Anchorage backyard ...

Nature.com

Nature.com
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 02:52:05 -0800

For the generation of protoplasts from the thermophile, a mixture of different fungal cell wall degrading enzymes was applied to young mycelium of a wildtype C. thermophilum var. thermophilum (La Touche 1950; DSM-1495) growing as submerged cultures.
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