The microscopic Spore Buddies of mushrooms contain the genetic blueprint for new growth. They are released from the caps of mature mushrooms into the environment, where they can germinate and grow to maturity. Spores are incredibly important in mushroom cultivation because they are the starting point of every mushroom colony.
As the spores do not have chlorophyll they rely on other nutrients to grow and develop into a full fruiting body (mushroom). Most species of mushrooms grow in specially designed suited materials called substrates that provide the necessary nutrition. The fungus blends with the material to form a ‘mushroom bed’ that when mature will give rise to the spores and mycelium from which mushrooms eventually develop during fruiting.
Conservation of Mushroom Biodiversity: Protecting Spores in the UK
Different spore types release their spores at different times of the year, depending on the weather conditions and other environmental factors. The spore risk is lowest in January and early February, rising during warm weather in mid-June and peaking through September with low levels into October and November.
Most spores are produced by the basidiomycota, which includes gilled mushrooms and some bracket fungi. These produce large quantities of spores that are airborne and dispersed throughout the atmosphere. The majority of spores are launched using the ballistospore discharge mechanism, which propels the basidiospore from the gills or spines of a mushroom cap or the inner surfaces of tubes in polaroid species.