Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fungus

Growing all over the place at the moment are many different species of fungus. A strange and distinct group of things which are not plants, not animals and not bacteria. The one thing which separates them from plants is the construction of their cell walls. In plants, these cell walls contain a substance called cellulose, in fungi however, these cell walls contain chitin, more usually found in the beaks of squid and octopus and the exoskeletons of arthropods such as shrimps and lobsters.
This collection of fungi belong to the Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea). Here, growing on a dead tree stump. This particular species of fungus is a major cause of rot within wood and causes 'white rot' which decomposes wood, at the same time keeping it white. The familiar 'mushroom' shaped part of the fungus is just the fruiting body of the organism, who's only purpose is to produce and distribute the spores by which the fungus reproduces. The main part of it is below the surface and consists of yards and yards of root-like structures known as Hyphae. Some are quite beautiful.
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