The voluntary and spontaneous formation of miniature mushrooms in a petri dish is a delightful experience for all cultivators. In this chapter, attention and insights are given for many species. By no means is this knowledge static. Every cultivator contributes to the body of knowledge each time a mushroom is cultured and studied.
The cultivator plays an active role in developing strains by physically selecting those which look "good". Integral to the success of the Mushroom Life Cycle is the mycelial path leading to primordia formation.To this end, the mushroom and the cultivator share common interests.The occurrence of primordia not only is a welcome affirmation of the strain's identity but is also indicative of its readiness to fruit Hence, I tend to favor strains which voluntarily form primordia.
Two approaches lead to primordia formation from cultured mycelium. The first is to devise a standard mei lia, a background against which all strains and species can be compared. After performance standards are ascertained, the second approach is to alter the media, specifically improving and designing its composition for the species selected. As a group, those strains needing bacteria to fruit do not form primordia on sterile media.
Several mushroom species have mycelial networks which, when they are disturbed at primordia formation, result in a quantum leap in the vigor of growth and in the number of subsequently forming primordia. With most strains however, the damaged primordia revert to vegetative growth. The following list of species are those that produce volunteer primordia on 2% enriched malt extract agar, supplemented with .2% yeast and. 005% gentamycin sulfate. *The formation of primordia on this medium is often strain specific. Those species in bold lettering are known by this author to benefit from the timely disturbance of primordia. Those which do benefit from disturbance are excellent candidates for liquid inoculation techniques. Agrocybe aegerita Flammulina velutipes Ganoderma lucidum Hericium erinaceus Hypsizygus tessulatus Hypsizygus ulmarius Lentinula edodes Pholiota nameko Pleurotus citrinopileatus Pleurotus djamor complex Pleurotus euosmus Pleurotus ostreatus Pleurotus djamor Pleurotus pulmonarius
* 1/20 of a gram of gentamycin sulfate per liter of media sufficiently inhibits bacteria to a containable level.
I SI jjjo hen a mushroom is brought into culture from ths^/iif little is known about its performance until trials are conducted. Each mushroom strain is unique. Most saprophytic fungi, especially primary saprophytes, are easy to isolate from nature. Whether or not they can be grown under "artificial" conditions, however, remains to be seen. Only after the cultivator has worked with a strain, through all the stages of the culturing process, does a recognizable pattern of characteristics evolve. Even witl-:n the same species, mushroom strains vary to surprising degrees
A cultivator develops an intimate, co-dependent relationship with every mushroom strain. The features listed below represent a mosaic of characteristics, helping a cultivator define the unique nature of any culture. By observing a culture's daily transformations, a complex field of features emerges, expressing the idiosyncrasies of each strain, Since tons of mushrooms are generated from a few petri dish cultures in a matter of weeks, these and other factors play essential roles in the success of each production run.
Once familiar with a particular culture, varia tions from the norm alert the cultivator to possible genetic decline or mutation .men differences in expression occur, not attributable to environmental factors such as habitat (s ub strate) or air quality, the cultivator should be a'armed. One of the first features in the tell-tale decline of a strain is "mushroom aborts". Aborting mushrooms represent failures in the mushroom colony, as a singular organism, to sustain total yield of all of its members to full maturity. The next classic symptom witnessed with a failing strain is ihe decline in the papulation of primordia. Fewer and fewer primordi^ appear. Those which do form are often dwarfs wi h deformed caps. These are just some of the features to be wary of should your strain not per form to proven standards.
A good strain is easy to keep, and difficult or impossible to regain once it senesces. Do not underestimate the importance of stock cultures. And do not underestimate the mutability of a mushroom strain once it has been developed. I use the following check-list of 28 features .or evaluating and developing a mushroom strain Most of these features can be observed with the naked eye.
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