How do fungi get to where they need to go? Fungi, according to botany.edu, get to various host sites in a number of ways. Most of these dispersal mechanisms are as yet unknown but there is speculative ongoing experimentation. Fungi do not bear seeds but reproduce by means of spores. These are tiny little spherical bits of fungal material that get blown around on wind. How they get to the wind to be carried to other potential growing sites is the question being asked. In other words, how has nature provided for these early group of plant organisms?
Before wading further into this confusing and speculative inquiry, let’s define fungi. Where on the timeline did it first arrive on earth and how is it different from the plants that grow food from photosynthesis? For that we go to online botanical sources, the keepers of the information we seek:
From answers.com online – who derived their information from Columbia Encyclopedia – I learn that fungi are a group of one-celled or multiple-celled or multinucleated organisms – “yeasts, molds, and mushrooms” – that live off other plants. Both gain by this association. However, there may be situations where one or the other is dominant and undermines the other. This is something to be learned with further study.
How do yeasts disperse their spores? This was a simple question but checking around online for a simple answer was not easy; therefore in order not to turn this rudimentary article on how do yeast disperse their spores into a an entangled forest of biological gobbledygook I must trim down the scientific information.
Pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articleunder/ dispenses its information with these words: “Spores are quiescent cells that display resistance to a variety of environmental insults. S. cerevisiae spores are characterized by a thick coat, or spore wall, that is more extensive than the cell wall of vegetative cells and this spore wall is essential for the resistance of the spores to environmental stress”
What I glean from this yeast travelogue is that nature has provided these fungi with tough spores that are tough and indigestible to insects. The insects in turn need the nourishment and in turn does a delivery job on their jobs. They drop their load on some inviting plant the next time in that vicinity and load up for the next haul. I know the whole process from beginning is fine tuned and is much more complicated than that, but this does answer the topic question for yeasts.
How do mold multiply? The mold spores are dispensed into the air when an animal or a person or the wind disturbs them. As they get near the ripe stage when they are ready to take off with the wind, molds are dispensed with the wind. The first outburst is the most prolific and after that they settle and wait for another disturbance. They are not necessarily seasonal but can cause allergies and other problem any time of the year. They like best “damp and humid environs. They are not to be confused with pollens that are more prolific in the early spring and late fall.
What about mushrooms? How do they go about their business of getting propagated? They are more visual and consequently more interesting than other types of fungi. Although of many shapes and sizes and qualities everyone has seen these white things that pop up overnight in lawns after a rain. Although slightly different they all, whether cap and stem, puff balls, etc., form spores much in the same way. The outer shell of a puff ball when collapsing dispenses into surrounding soil and low lying air spores.
Cap mushrooms have spores underneath their capes and when ripe the simply drop them. The mechanism by which this happens is a tiny drop of water forms on the tip of the mature spore and when it gets heavy it drops. It can be compared to a prankster dropping a water balloon from an upstairs window.
To test this procedure you can gently break off the cap of a mushroom and place it on a white sheet of paper. Check it an hour later and you have visual evidence of mushroom spores. Careful though, some mushrooms are poisonous and don’t allow children to play with them. Bon voyage to fungi and a hefty salute to Mother Nature who does what she does so very well.