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Importance of Mycelium in Fungus Growth

The mushroom’s structure is complex as their bodies are underground and not at all as many people imagine; the seasonal umbrella-like aerial protrusion is similar to the endearing little houses in David the Gnome’s village. Indeed, mushrooms are the result of the reproduction of mycelium, which carries the spores that allow species to perpetuate themselves when they come into contact with the soil and the climatic conditions conducive to their growth.

What is mycelium?

The mycelium is a collection of hyphae (very small diameter filaments) that form the body of fungi. It looks similar to plant roots but is almost microscopic and its main function is to break down different substances in the soil to make them absorbable by itself and neighbouring plants. Of course, under the right circumstances, they also allow reproduction, which leads to the growth of the fungus.

How does the mycelium form?

The mycelium appears after the spores have germinated. These produce the first hyphae called primary mycelium, which is sterile. To reproduce and create a fungus, it must meet another primary filament of the opposite sex. The union of the two will give rise to the so-called secondary mycelium, which is fertile because it carries cells with two nuclei and therefore two chromosomes.

The hyphae of the mycelium spread by branching in all directions and can colonise great distances underground. In fact, in 2000, the largest mushroom ever discovered was found in Oregon, measuring over 5.5 kilometres in diameter and covering about 890 hectares of forest.

Mycelium’s function

The main function of mycelium is to obtain food from the soil. To do this, they secrete an enzyme that breaks down organic matter in the soil, making it available for consumption. At this stage, the hyphae of the mycelium absorb the food by osmotic means.

In addition to ensuring their and other plants’ survival with which they work in symbiosis, mycelia can be very useful in other environments:

Fungi can eradicate soil pollutants such as petroleum products and some pesticides since these are organic molecules that are a source of carbon for them. This happens as long as the substance does not contain chemicals that are harmful to the mycelium.It keeps the soil unrooted until the plants in the area develop and it is the root system of the plants that take over.Mycelium can be used to make furniture materials, artificial leather, or bricks. It can also be an alternative to plastic packaging and polyester, grown from agricultural waste.A good set of hyphae is essential for composting biomass, as they break down the substances in the raw material, something that other compost microorganisms are not capable of.They likely work as biological filters to remove harmful chemicals and microorganisms from the soil and water, although more research is needed in this area.

The importance of mycelium in magic mushroom farming

In fungus growing, it is essential to take optimal care of the mycelium, as it can easily be contaminated by undesirable elements in the air, bacteria, or other fungi, thus preventing their proliferation. Therefore, a crucial factor is to take appropriate preventive measures during maintenance and handling.

This prevention starts before the substrate is inoculated. It is necessary to sterilise the soil in which the mycelium will grow in order to eliminate all pathogens that could affect its growth. Similarly, all utensils that will come into contact with the mushroom bread must be sterilised.

One of the main sources of contamination of the mushroom culture is the air and the bacteria and viruses it may contain. To avoid this, the air must be filtered with an ozone generator.

If a contaminated culture is detected, it is crucial to act quickly and eliminate it, keeping it closed at all times to avoid contamination of the rest of the mushrooms or mycelium networks.

The importance of mycelia on Earth

Mycelia play an essential role in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, being able to decompose plant matter and convert it into assimilable nutrients; not only on their own but also with the help of other plants and underground life forms.

In this way, it promotes soil’s organic composition and its growth contributes carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Similarly, the absorption of water and nutrients from the surrounding plants in symbiosis

Finally, mycelium serves as food for a large number of soil-dwelling invertebrates. It is also essential for the functioning of agriculture and for the survival of most plants on the planet, which live in symbiosis with mycelium.

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Erik Collado

With more than 10 years of background in the cannabis sector, his experience and knowledge are the base of GB The Green Brand’s success

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