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Author Topic: How does fungi grow?  (Read 27848 times)

Laura Pope

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How does fungi grow?
« on: 08/07/2011 16:01:02 »
Laura Pope  asked the Naked Scientists:
1) How do fungi grow?
2) What is the composition of fungi?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 08/07/2011 16:01:02 by _system »


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How does fungi grow?
« Reply #1 on: 07/07/2011 21:25:01 »
Those questions are somewhat vague; how much detail are you looking for?

Fungi grow the same way all living things do: by taking in nutrients, processing them, excreting waste products, cellular division, tissue differentiation (for the multicellular species), etc. When you see mushrooms in the forest, they are not actually the fungus itself; they are only the reproductive organ of the fungus. The main fungal body lives underground and is composed of a series of thread-like filaments called the mycelium. What's interesting is that fungi have holes in their cell walls which allows cytoplasm to flow efficiently from one cell to another. This allows fungi to grow quickly (ever seen mushrooms sprout up overnight?).

Fungi cannot create their own energy from photosynthesis, so they absorb nutrients and sugars from other organisms (often plants). They may not even need to parasitize living organisms, but dead ones instead (mold on bread being an example).

Fungi are composed chemically of largely the same basic substances as other living things: water, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, amino acids, trace minerals, etc. Their cell walls contain a material called chitin, which is similar in some ways to cellulose in plants, but contains nitrogen. Many fungi (in the form of fruiting bodies, i.e. mushrooms) may also contain toxins.


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How does fungi grow?
« Reply #2 on: 07/07/2011 23:55:53 »
It is quite common for fungi to have beneficial relationships especially with higher plants such as tree's.  Rather then a parasitical relationship they exchange nutrients with the tree.  One example that is quite well known for this are Fairy Rings, this is where the fungi forms an association with the root of a tree species.  It is also interesting to note that many of these types of relationship do not form until the tree is in its adult stage of life.


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