Photography by Tom Volk


Galerina autumnalis in association with moss. Flickr 2010.Fungi are heterotrophic organisms, meaning they do not produce their own means of nutrients such as a photosynthetic plant produces glucose and oxygen with the assistance of water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight. An advantage fungi have over photosynthetic plants is because they do not need sunlight they can thrive in darkened areas.

Galerina autumnalis is a fungus that thrives on dead materials making it a saprophyte. This choice of a substrate helps the ecosystem because it helps to decompose the rotten wood on the forest floors. The left over nutrients can then be used for other organisms.

The image to the left is an example of Galerina autumnalis living in association with the mossy environment. Learn about other organisms that are associated with G. autumnalis  at the interactions page.


Galerina autumnalis 2010.

How does Galerina autumnalis receive nutrients?
Fungi have an interesting way of acquiring nutrients that is different from the traditional ingest then digest sequence. These sessile organisms have a network, a mycelium, which consists of thread-like structures called hyphae that help dissolve the substrate. The substrate is another way of saying the fungi's food source. By secreting enzymes these hyphae break down the nutrients and give them the ability to grow through a substrate. With the extension of the hyphae they are able to grow while covering more surface area for potential fruiting bodies. Since Galerina autumnalis does not have the true tissues or vascular systems that animals have to transport nutrients, the hyphae act as a transport system to provide nutrients throughout the fungi.

An example of fungal hyphae. Flickr 2008.

The picture to the right is an example of hyphae. They appear to be root-like structures, but the microscopic morphology between roots and hyphae are completely different.




Hyphae 2008.

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