What, exactly, is a mushroom?
Mushrooms aren't around just so you can put them on your pizza. The mushroom is part of a large fungus that lives underground. The mushroom develops above the ground when the fungus is ready to reproduce.
Body Parts of Fungi
The most important body parts of fungi include:
- Cell wall: A layer around the cell membrane of fungi cells, similar to that found in plant cells.
Hyphae: These are thread-like strands which interconnect and bunch up into a mycelium (Figure below). Ever see mold on a damp wall or on old bread? The things that you are seeing are really mycelia. The hyphae and mycelia help the fungi absorb nutrients from other organisms.
- Specialized structures for reproduction: One example is a fruiting body. A mushroom is a fruiting body, which is the part of the fungus that produces spores (Figure below). The spores are the basic reproductive units of fungi.
Hyphae of a Penicillium mold. The little “trees” are specialized hyphae on which spores are produced.
A mushroom is a fruiting body.
fruiting body: Specialized structures for reproduction in fungi.
hyphae: Thread-like strands that make up the body of a fungus.
mycelium: Body of a fungus; consists of a mass of thread-like strands called hyphae.
- Fungi have a cell wall.
- The fungal body consists of thread-like structures called hyphae, which can bunch up into a mycelium.
- Fungi often make specialized reproductive structures, such as a mushroom.
Use the resources below to answer the questions that follow.
- What are fruiting bodes?
- How fast can a mycelium grow?
- What is the function of mushrooms from the fungi point of view?
- What is the fungal body made up of?
- Why is the fungal mycelium usually hidden from view?
- What part of a fungus is usually most visible?
- What makes up the main "body" of the fungus?
- What is the purpose of a mushroom?