This photo was courtesy of Damon Tighe, it is Psilocybe cyanescens fruiting body

Life Cycle

Life Cyle of Psilocybe Cyanescens, illustrated by Jacob Akin

Jacob Akin, April 20, 2013

Psilocybe cyanescens is a typical fungus that undergoes the traditional reproductive process for mushrooms. The cycle first begins with 1N, where a haploid spore is introduced to the proper medium, see Nutrition for greater detail on this aspect, but once the spore is germinated the further development of mycelia (singular) results.

Growth Process

Mycelia is in essence of thread like material, made up of hyphae, that develops in the substrate or growing medium. The individual hyphae are crucial, because they are composed of vesicles at growing locations, referred to as branch regions in the scientific community. The mycelia continues to develop in response to the available nutrients. As the mycelia continues to increase in prominence, plasmogamy occurs resulting in a dikaryon, now composed of (plural) mycelium. The now N+N (dikaryotic) mycelium continues to grow in the substrate, and reproduces at an increasing rate.

Eventually, the mycelium allows for fruiting bodies to develop, which are the mushrooms that are seen. Therefore, the mushroom that grows is actually a fruit that developed from the network of mycelium beneath the surface of the substrate. The fruiting body undergoes one final transition, referred to as karyogomy, resulting in the diploid fruiting body that is eventually harvested or releases its spores into the environment. The spores that are released into the external environment from the gills of the fruiting body however are singular (1N) and thus the cycle of life repeats itself, as long as the environment that the (singular) mycelia is in can support the nutrient requirements.

Wikimedia Commons, February 21, 2009

If the concept of various generational transitions is still confusing, please continue reading, as I will simplify the process, which will hopefully be able to enhance your understanding of the fungal developmental process. In essence, as long as there are adequate nutrients to support the growth of mycelium, fruiting bodies should develop from the mycelium and continue to release their spores, which in turn will eventually create more mycelium when plasmogony occurs. It is also important to note that the singular form of hyphae's cellular walls are composed of chitin, instead of cellulose as occurs in plants. Although this is similar to the process that occurs in plans, it is important to note that the organelles and structures of fungi differentiate greatly from that of plants. Lastly, the method of nutrient uptake that fungi have adopted is similar to that of animals, in particular the aspect that fungi store their nutrients in the form of glycogen, which differs greatly from plants, as plants store their food in the form of starch.

Venture to the Interactions page to see how P. cyanescens interacts with other organisms in a given environment. To see how fungi are able to get adequete food supply, see the page on nutrition.