Reproduction

Although, as we will see, there is a good deal of variety among the patterns of reproduction among the fungi, all share in common the feature of reproducing by spores; these are non-motile reproductive cells that rely on being carried by animals or the wind for their dispersal. The hyphae that bear the spores usually project up into the air, aiding their dispersal. One of the main reasons that we have to practise aseptic techniques in the laboratory is that fungal spores are pretty well ubiquitous, and will germinate and grow if they find a suitable growth medium. Spores of the common black bread mould, Rhizopus, (see below) have been found in the air over the North Pole, and hundreds of miles out to sea. In some fungi the aerial spore-bearing hyphae are developed into large complex structures called fruiting bodies. The most familiar example of a fruiting body is the mushroom. Many people think that the mushroom itself is the whole fungus but it only represents a part of it; most is buried away out of sight below the surface of the soil or rotting material, a network of nearly invisible hyphae.

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