|MadSci Network: General Biology|
Nicole; I'm sorry for taking so long to answer your questions, but I've been out for the holidays. The organisms you are refering to are part of the kingdow of fungi known as Basidiomycetes (macrofungi). A mushroom is the fruiting body of the mycelia (microscopic root or hair like structures) that grows in the soil or other organic material. Each species of these fungi has different envirionmental conditions that must be present for mushrooms to form. Some will form after a rain, some only form at night, etc. etc. etc. None utilize photosynthesis as all fungi are non-photosynthetic. When the environmental conditions are right for a particular species, the large spore forming (fruiting) body is formed from the mycelia and we see what is commonly refered to as a mushroom. A more detailed description of how or why fungi form mushrooms is fairly complex and somewhat beyond my ability to respond here. The best references available for a more detailed answer to your question are: www.mycolog.com When you get to this site select browse "The Fifth Kingdom". This is an excellent easy to understand interactive text book on fungi (including mushrooms). You can go directly to Chapter 5 (but I would recommend starting with Chapter 1 and working your way through - there are several terms you may need in Chapter 5 to really understand the text). The second reference is in book form: 'Encyclopaedia of Fungi' Gerrit J. Keizer 1996 Rebo Productions, Lisse, the Netherlands ISBN 1 901094 219 Nicole; The world of fungi is a complex and wonderful group of organisms that are all around us all the time - and absolutely part of life here on earth. I truly hope you take the time to study and understand their role in the web of life. If you need additional references, help or have other questions, please contact me again. Mike Curtis
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