The mushroom life cycle was divided into 5 stages

While mushrooms may like the dark, you don’t have to dwell on it when wondering about their life cycle. Whether you are a mushroom grower or want to learn more about the mysterious mycelium, the life cycle of mushrooms is a fascinating subject to learn about.

What is the life cycle of mushrooms?

The life cycle of mushrooms is largely invisible to humans, shrouding it in mystery for most of us who have no experience growing them. From spore release to fruit development, the mushroom life cycle follows the rapid, complex development of everyone’s favorite fungi.

How long is the life cycle of mushrooms?

The length of the mushroom life cycle varies from mushroom to mushroom depending on their size and environment.

Some mushrooms may outgrow theirs entire life cycle in just one day, while others may survive for a week, and some even for a month. Mushrooms in moist environments grow steadily, while those in drier conditions may take longer.

Stages of the mushroom life cycle

Mushrooms are complex organisms, so of course their life cycle is not entirely simple. To make it easier to understand, we have broken down their life cycle into 5 easy-to-digest stages.

1. It starts with spores

It all starts with a spore, one in billions, freed from the gills of a mushroom cap. Spores may land close to their parent mushroom or, if it’s particularly windy, far away. If they are lucky, they will land in favorable conditions on a substrate that they can feed on. Those lucky enough to land in the ideal environment will then begin to grow.

Once germinated they will divide by mitosis creating a thread-like fiber called a hypha, which branches from the germinated seed.

The hypha consists of mycelium and is the main course of mushroom germination and growth. Creating a tangled mat of fine filaments, the hyphae spread out into the environment near the mycelium, releasing chemicals to break down the food. They then digest the nutrients from that food, which are absorbed by the mushroom.

mushroom spores

2. The Fungi Gets Freaky

The primary mission of the hypha is to find a spore of the opposite sex, which is a genetic match, to attach to. In her search for love, the fabric will expand until she meets her match.

The mood is set, probably on a damp log in the dark somewhere. The hyphae, when they meet, are attracted to each other and get right down to business, bind and combine, creating a cell with two nuclei.

The hyphae are wrapped tightly around each other until a hyphal knot is formed. This encounter begins the stage of sexual reproduction for fungi, also known as plasmogamy. The combined genetic information of the two spores gives the mycelium everything it needs to produce a mushroom.

3. The mushroom grows

At this stage in the mushroom’s life cycle, the mycelium takes control by finding nutrients to break down for the mushroom, fueling its exponential growth, it also acts as the mushroom’s immune system, repelling competitors and predators with protective compounds and enzymes.

The mycelium will grow through its environment, branching out in every direction to create a dense network through which it decomposes organic matter to absorb nutrients. ONE mycorrhizal relationship it is formed with whatever substrate the mushroom is perched on, whether it is a tree or soil.

4. The knot is tied

As the mycelium continues to flourish in its ideal conditions, it is nearing its end dikaryotic phase. Once all the nutrients around the mushroom are absorbed or a change in the environment occurs, such as a drop in temperature, the mycelium will begin to fruit.

During this phase, a myriad of enzymes are produced around the hyphal knot to create fruit bodies. The resulting small white shape is called a “primordium” which some people call “tiny pin heads” because this visible white pigment looks like a tiny mushroom cap.

The caps of the tiny mushroom will continue to grow, in a process completely visible to the naked eye, until they reach the shape and size of grown mushrooms.

5. The final analysis

At the end of the mushroom’s life cycle, fruits form, which often only exist for a few days before disappearing. The mushroom channels all its energy and nutrients into developing fruiting bodies which then release spores.

Billions of spores are released and travel until they find the perfect conditions to grow, starting the mushroom life cycle again.

Final Stage of Mushroom Life Cycle

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