Fungus Wars

Fungal Ecology at Cardiff

Pv v Hf smallHypholoma fighting Phanerochaete

– Lynne Boddy

Fungi rarely live alone, so they frequently encounter other fungi, bacteria and invertebrates, and sometimes vertebrates too. Like animals, fungi can distinguish self from non-self. When one mycelium (the main body of the fungus, comprising a network of fine filaments, termed hyphae) meets another, chemical recognition shows whether it is a different species, a different individual of the same species or, indeed, itself. We can clearly see the location of different individual fungi if we cut a slice from a log. Typically there are lots of continuous lines demarcating columns of decay – called zone lines. These lines vary in colour, depending on which species formed them, but are most commonly dark, though sometimes brightly coloured, e.g. orange. Like the garden fences or walls that surround our homes and gardens, they demarcate the territory of an individual fungus. Often adjacent individual fungi have their…

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