Life History and Reproduction

What came first, the spore or the mushroom?  Let's say the mushroom; thus, the lifecycle of H. peckii would begin with a dikaryotic mushroom, or basidiocarp, shown in the left center of the diagram below. The mushroom is merely a spore's way a making oodles more spores.  To do so, each H.peckii basidiocarp has a hymenophore  full of  tooth-like projections each of which is lined with tiny club-shaped structures called basidia. Spores are eventually borne on the basidia. In the cross section through teeth in the diagram below, the humps around the circumference of each tooth are basidia. Initially, the basidia are dikaryotic, then they undergo karyogamy to form diploid basidia.  After that, each diploid basidum  goes through meiosis to produce four haploid daughter nuclei.  The daughter nuclei quickly migrate to the edge of the basidum and pinch off into individual basidiospores. (The small horn-like protrusions that form to support the basidiospores are called sterigmata).  In turn, the innumerable basidiospores produced by H peckii on its hymenophore germinate, are dispersed in the wind,  and ensconce themselves in the fateful tract of ground where they land.  From there, the basidiospores grow through mitosis into haploid primary mycelia.  Eventually, two haploid hyphae of complimentary mating types fuse through plasmogamy to create a dikaryotic  mycelium. To maintain a dikaryotic state, the secondary mycelia of H. peckii form clamp connections (above).  The resulting secondary mycelium  grows into a matrix of mycelium which eventually engenders a dikaryotic fruiting body when conditions are favorable(Campbell et al., 2008). H.peckii spends approximately the same amount of time in dikaryotic and haploid states, and has an exceedingly transient diploid state.

H. peckii lifecycle by Pat DeFlorin

H. peckii typically fruit in the late summer to autumn and may do so irregularly— several years between fruiting episodes is common. On top of that, it's not known exactly what "favorable conditions" entail for H. peckii; thus, its intermittent fruiting pattern remains somewhat of a mystery (Van der Linde, 2009).

H.peckii can also produce resting spores known as chlamydospores (right) that are warted like its regular spore, but have much thicker walls (Agerer, 1993). By forming these thick-walled chlamydospores, H. peckii is able to adapt when conditions are harsh and nutrients are less accessible.

When young, basidiocarps of H.peckii spectacularly display vibrant red exudates on their taut, cream to colored pileus.  As the basidiocarps age however, they become less photogenic. Mature H. peckii basidiocarps appear dark brown and glabrous. Moreover, as mentioned in on the classification page, H peckii has indeterminate growth.  That means H.peckii can engulf foreign organic matter in its growth path and amalgamate with other H. peckii fruiting bodies.

In other news, I hear that H. peckii's interactions with other organisms are simply  fascinating.