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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.
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4232 news items

Revelstoke Mountaineer

Revelstoke Mountaineer
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 06:08:04 -0700

Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets is a book that will appeal to readers with both a little or a lot of interest in mushrooms. Most people know that mushrooms are great for our health, especially as an immune-boosting food. However, most people are ...

The Slovak Spectator

The Slovak Spectator
Wed, 29 Jul 2015 04:03:45 -0700

“It will create some kind of positive mycelium, some good conditions, but for receiving investments and improving the situation it is necessary to build infrastructure,” Branislav Masár, executive director of AZZZ, told RTVS. The non-parliamentary Sieť ...

CNET

Smithsonian
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 08:41:54 -0700

Alfred Wegener, who first proposed the theory of plate tectonics, tried to solve the more delicate mystery of how hair ice forms too. He noticed that the ice filaments only grew on logs that also bore the thin threads of fungus mycelium and thought the ...

MLive.com

MLive.com
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 11:03:49 -0700

Jake Winiski performs quality control in a cleanroom inspecting a tray of mycelium and other raw materials that will age to become an eco-friendly packaging material at Ecovative Design in Green Island, N.Y., on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Mike ...

hypebot.com

hypebot.com
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 08:45:00 -0700

Inspired by the largest living organisms on earth, ancient, unseen, core to life itself, Mycelium (plural Mycelia) can stretch for miles, beneath the surface. Each artist acting like its own Mycelium, in full animated dialogue with others on the global ...
 
Brave New Coin
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 22:37:30 -0700

At this time, Case shares that top-of-the-line wallet status with nobody, although competition from Mycelium and Butterfly Labs have both been in the works for some time. Right in the middle of these two tiers is a price point where the first hardware ...

Pc-Tablet Media

Pc-Tablet Media
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:45:00 -0700

He noticed that hair ice only grew on rotting logs that contained the fungus mycelium, and believed that there was a connection between mycelium and the growth of the hair shaped strands of ice. However, a team at the Institute of Applied Physics at ...

Big Island Now

Big Island Now
Mon, 27 Jul 2015 14:33:45 -0700

The course will include information on basic fungal biology and how fungal mycelium colonizes with various materials, like wooden logs and straw. Mermel will teach participants about the health benefits of certain edible and medicinal fungi in Hawai'i.
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