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Whether you live in a walk-out basement or deep in the boondocks, mushroom cultivation makes an excellent choice for your gardening arsenal. Remember that these filamentous fungi are high in Vitamin B; niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. These incredible combinations help maintain healthy skin, heart, digestive system, and red blood cells. In addition, some health experts recommend mushrooms in reducing inflammation, warding off microorganisms, balancing blood sugar, inhibiting tumor growth, and detoxification.

This article gives an in-depth look at the life cycle of mushrooms and all the stages involved.

Stages of mushroom growth explained

The complete life cycle of mushrooms differs from one species to another. Nonetheless, it can range from 1-2 days to several months, with the process running for thousands of years. All in all, how does mushrooms reproduce? Mushrooms reproduce asexually. Like most fungi life cycle, mushrooms produce by production of spores. In the process, there is no change in chromosomes of fusion of gametes like sexual production here. Instead, offspring inherit genetic material from a single parent. 

Still, do fungi have a nucleus? Fungi can survive throughout their lives with a singular nucleus (the membrane-bound organ that contains cell chromosomes). Except that, when two lonely mushrooms filaments find each other, the mycelia bind, leading to fruiting bodies that produce new mushrooms. Each cell has double nuclei that never fuse until the basidium development. The secondary mycelium forms a basidiocarp, a body that protrudes from the ground or what we consider mushrooms.

The mushrooms anatomy may appear small and fragile at first glance. Nonetheless, a lot goes on in various stages of mushroom growth, from germination and fruiting. A closer look at mushrooms growth cycle exposes us to a fantastic world of an organism that surpasses other living forms in adapting to their environment.

Spore Dropping 

Getting a mushroom to blossom is hugely satisfying. However, the life cycle of fungi is a delicate and intricate biological phenomenon that requires a specific level of humidity, light, and temperature to succeed. 

Spore dropping is the first stage of mushroom growth. The process involves a reduction of mycelium into spores. It takes place inside a spore sack or ascoma. This is where the formation of "future" mushrooms and spores occurs. A spore is a new individual genetically identical to its parent. In short, they are little scraps of mushroom that fall off the gills or cap and onto the ground. 

A bunch can land together and become a square shape with a brown edge, looking like a mini leaf. Some gilled mushrooms bury under the ground in mulch and leaves for several months to grow their caps down into the dirt. Experts refer to these kinds of mushrooms as "trunk-forming." If environmental conditions become conducive, a mushroom might pop out of the ground or continue to grow underneath. 

It's pretty neat how plants and trees send their roots up into the air while sending their fruits and stem across huge areas underground. Mushrooms growth cycle happen in a similar way. In a nutshell, the mushroom roots can grow large clusters underground but don't look like them on top.

Develop into a Hyphae

Two distinct groups of mushrooms grow from spores, either macroscopic (visible to the naked eye) or microscopic. In the process, they build their bodies around the hypha, a more refined type of fungi cell.

The macroscopic mushrooms produce four types of fruiting bodies: puffballs, polypores, gilled (or agarics) mushroom, and cup fungi. All these fungal structures start as spores that germinate into hyphae, an essential element of the mushrooms life cycle.

The most outstanding aspects of hyphae are that they produce different forms that characterize fungi. You can spot them growing either outside or inside plants. The way hyphae start their life cycle varies depending on their location and other factors.

Mycelium

Unknown to most people, a mushroom plant never grows from a spore directly. Rather, each has a mycelium mat that starts small and underground. In other terms, this the stuff that digests all that organic matter from the ground and grows into an actual fruiting body. 

Stages of mycelim growth in mushrooms occur when fungi get exposed to a food source such as mulch or compost, which leads to its survival. The mycelium permeates the soil, feeding on decaying organic matter and absorbing all nutrients from nearby plants' roots. Later, mushrooms pop up when their mycelium mat reaches an adequate size.

In contrast to other fungi such as rusts and powdery mildewsmushrooms are not parasitic. In this phase of its life cycle, the mushroom is like a sponge; it is white and does not have any form yet. It looks like white cotton, which gives the plant its informal name, a "white fungus."

The hyphal knots

A hypabal knot (or Hypaballium) is the name given to the cap of a mushroom when viewed from above. It's formed within the margin of the cap and made up of vertical rows of cells. The structure resembles an odd little tree with many short branches hence the name "hyphal knot". 

If you're familiar with mycology lingo, you may already know that this "tree" is a rhizomorph with its branches recognized as pseudoadventitious hyphae (or bulbous base). It is closely linked to the mycelium and determines the overall health of the mushroom. 

Stakes are high that unhealthy looking hypabal knots indicate some developmental issues with the entire plant. For that reason, it is worth learning how to make the knot healthy. Remember that mushrooms require utmost attention for splendid results. The more knowledge you have regarding your plants' unique needs and care tips, the better chance you have of growing healthy and tasty mushrooms.

Primordia Formation

Primordia are the new mushroom fruiting bodies. These are tiny circular bumps that form into actual mushrooms in later stages of the cycle. Generally, primordia are the formation of a young mushroom's basidiocarp before developing gills, spores, or teeth.

Typically, a primordial mushroom grows at the base of an existing parent, resembling a stalk at a certain point. There are different types of primordia formation in mushrooms life cycle. Altogether, you may notice cell wall differentiation, resulting in the formation of sterile tissue around the spore sacs in this phase. Keep in mind that the immature basidiocarp, basidioma, or mushroom can grow in any direction. 

Mature Fruitbody

From a bunch of healthy primordia, the thriving organisms pick the most healthy and promising to develop into beautiful, edible mature fruit bodies. Later, they release spores that contain all the genetic information needed to reproduce. 

A well-grown mushroom fruit body can produce tens of millions of spores that disperse into the air via wind currents. This technique, along with their durable cell walls and other unique adaptations, helps fungi outlive other species on Earth. Those that land in a favorable growth medium can germinate healthily and begin the cycle again.

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