Monday Minute

Similar to apples, mushrooms grown commercially are clones of a single original mushroom. Wild mushrooms with unique desirable qualities are collected and cloned. Unlike apples, in order to clone mushrooms, it must be done in as sterile an environment as possible and usually done by taking a piece of the mushroom and letting it grow on agar in a petri dish. A few mold spores on the petri dish is enough to possibly kill the mushroom. Agar is the substance you see in the bottom of a petri dish and it is basically just jello that is usually made from a type of seaweed. The mushroom grows mycelium off of it that then gets nutrients from the agar and continues to grow. Mycelium is the fungus that grows below the ground or in the tree. This is the “plant” and the mushrooms we eat are just the fruit of the fungus. Compared to apples the mycelium is equal to the tree and the mushroom is equal to the apple. The mycelium is usually much much larger than the mushroom it fruits. In fact, the largest living organism on the planet is a fungus in Oregon that covers 2,384 acres or roughly 1,665 football fields It may also be the oldest organism on the planet estimated to be between 2,400 years old and possibly 8,650 years old.

-Chris

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