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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 pesticides, typical soil contaminants, are organic molecules, i.e. they are built on a carbon structure. This means that these substances present a potential carbon source for fungi. Hence, fungi have the potential to remove such pollutants from the soil 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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113 news items

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Fri, 04 Jul 2014 05:35:40 -0700

Android wallet provider Mycelium has made announcements on a number of projects this week, including a USB device that offers a unique and more secure way of generating paper wallets for storing bitcoin. Called Entropy, the USB dongle device allows ...

3DPrint.com

3DPrint.com
Thu, 26 Jun 2014 05:40:51 -0700

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St. Cloud Times
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:22:30 -0700

"It's pretty labor intensive, and it makes for a long day," Ratliff said. Ratliff drills holes in the logs and fills them with mycelium plugs — the vegetative part of a fungus. The mycelium absorbs nutrients from the log to form the mushroom. While ...

Phys.Org

Phys.Org
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 13:26:15 -0700

The gossamer network of strands making up the fungal mycelium transports nutrients between spores (the brown spheres here), which helps them to reproduce. Those spores are tiny -- 64,000 times smaller than the typical ant in whose colony they share a ...
 
Green Building Elements
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:52:30 -0700

Ecovative is a material science company developing a new class of home-compostable bioplastics based on mycelium, a living organism. Mushroom Materials are high-performance, environmentally responsible alternatives to traditional plastic foam ...
 
Eurasia Review
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:33:45 -0700

Vietnam's first online Bitcoin trading floor has gone live, allowing customers to buy and sell Bitcoins in Vietnamese dong. VBTC came into existence through the merger of Vietnamese Bitcoin broker exchange, BitcoinVietnam, and an Israeli Bitcoin ...
 
Antiwar.com
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 21:02:24 -0700

There's the Andre Chauvin Beguin wallet. Mycelium is another incredibly interesting one. There's just so many fantastic wallets and developers out there working on that sort of thing that makes it really easy for people to use Bitcoin in their day-to ...

3DPrint.com

3DPrint.com
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 05:52:32 -0700

It is made of a mixture of mycelium mushrooms and grass, which are grown on top of a structure which can be 3D printed. Within just a few days, the 3D printed structure, along with the grass and mycelium, could grow to a point where a solid, strong, ...
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