"Breeding" Mushrooms

Nooooo. You don't BREED mushrooms. They are mushrooms. And as every girl who has ever gone out on a date with the sullen guy knows, MUSHROOMS don't get romantic.

So there is a point I'm going to make.

  • Mushrooms are NOT like plants.
  • They do not have gender. EVER.
  • They do not "cross breed". Not really.
  • They are not "pollinated", and you cannot blend mushroom genetics like plants.
  • They are not like people. They do not have pairs of genes.

They DO hybridize. But it is different, and it isn't quite like breeding, not even like plants.

Mushrooms grow from a mycellial mass, just fungal roots that spread through whatever they are growing on or in. That mass produces fruit, in the form of the mushroom. A mushroom may have different genetic elements to cause the various shapes, colors, and other features particular to that mushroom, but it is still all that same single mushroom.

The fruit is DIFFERENT than the mycellial roots that constitute the base of the organism, yet it retains the mycellial genetics also.

Mushrooms can be DIVIDED, and each part will be capable of propagation.

You can divide the mycellium of any part.

You can cut the "roots" and put this part there, and this part here, and both will grow. It doesn't cry when you do this, it just reforms and continues to grow.

If you pick a mushroom (the fruit of the mycellial mass), that mushroom can be divided into pieces, and each piece is capable of creating an entirely new organism. You can bury part, and it can grow into a new mycellial mass if conditions are right. Even those decorated cap parts will revert genetically if buried in the ground, and turn into more "roots".

This is because mushrooms do not form a complex organism like a person.

Mushrooms CLONE, from any cell.

If you take part of one, it will create an identical organism, genetically.

Of course, that isn't always stable, because environmental factors can MUTATE the genetics, and create a new organism form. But cloning is absolutely a reality with mushrooms, and it is how things are done with them, both in nature, and in industrial cultivation.

But as I said, they CAN HYBRIDIZE, as long as they are compatible.

Many Genera are EASY hybridizers. You put two together, and they will BLEND the genetics. They won't just intermingle, they will cross the genetics and create a new form.

Hybridizing is a varied process.

Some mushrooms are more genetically dominant than others. So you put a LITTLE BIT of this one with a LOT of that one, and eventually the smaller mass just OVERCOMES the larger, and usually the genetics are blended some in the process, IF they are compatible.

If they are NOT compatible, they just intermingle and wrangle it out, side by side.

For other mushrooms, a similar mass is needed from each species, to induce hybridization, if they are similarly dominant.

With still others, they are highly compatible, and any mixing of the mycellium will result in a mingling of genetics, and it can happen very rapidly, because they are so similar genetically to begin with.

This is one way that mushroom species are influenced by intentional, or even unintentional cultivation. There are many variables that can make the process somewhat unpredictable, even when you understand what many of the variables are.

Some species do NOT hybridize easily. They just don't intermingle their genetics, even when they are in the same genus.

Some are easily MUTATED, and various environmental influences may cause them to create many forms, and this can create a new species, or even an entirely new Genus. This is in response to genetic DAMAGE, and survival dictates that the organism become something new in the face of harm.

Other types of mushrooms are ADAPTERS. It is a form of Mutation, but it is a gradual one, done for survival, and not due to damage. If they are placed in a new environment which is not optimal, they may adapt, by slow genetic change, to produce better and better in that environment. In time, they may be very different from the original mushroom that was transplanted.

Every single cell in a mushroom is capable of cloning, and the process of changing the nature of a species or of creating a new genera is one of finding a means of stimulating the change.

We SEE this in nature if we forage much. We also see this on the farm if we grow mushrooms.

This part is fascinating for the MycoGeek, and it gives us much to think about in interpreting what we see, and in planning what we want to try to produce.


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