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Part XIX : Colonizing and Populating Habitats : Seeds and Spores Index

Seeds and Spores : Introduction
Liverworts
Mosses
Ferns
Chapter Summary (useful for revision)
Questions relating to this chapter

Topic Chapters Index

 

Toadstools  © Paul Billiet

Toadstools

 

Underside of cep mushroom showing gills  © Paul Billiet 

Underside of cep mushroom showing gills

 

COLONIZING AND POPULATING HABITATS

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Fungi

Green plants are not the only organisms to produce spores; the fungi produce spores as well. The mushrooms or the toadstools that we find growing in the countryside are spore-producing structures of fungi which grow in the soil. The mushroom or toadstool is the result of two fungi of the same species coming into contact in the soil. Together these two fungi produce the mushroom. Reproduction takes place inside the mushroom and as a result spores are produced.

 

A growing mushroom cut lengthwise  © Paul Billiet

A growing mushroom cut lengthwise

The threads of two mushrooms meet underground

   

A immature ("button") mushroom cut lengthwise © Paul Billiet

A immature ("button") mushroom cut lengthwise

   

A mature mushroom  © Paul Billiet

A mature mushroom

 

The spores of mushrooms are microscopic so they are easily carried on the wind. To catch the wind the spores are released above the ground from underneath the cap of the mushroom. The growth of a mushroom is shown in the diagrams above.

To collect the spores of a mushroom a spore print can be made by placing an open mushroom on a card overnight. The millions of spores released by its gills settle onto the card. This is useful information because a mushroom can be identified by: the colour of the spores, the pattern of the gills, as well as the shape and colour of the cap.

With the help of the microscope the spores can be seen growing on the gills. This will give even more information about the type of mushroom under investigation.

 

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