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Virtual Herbarium

Mertz Library

Steere Herbarium
Hidden Partners: Mycorrhizal Fungi and Plants

Vocabulary Definitions

Basidiomycetes - Class of fungi belonging to the phylum Basidiomycota. They reproduce by sexually produced spores on a club shaped structure called a basidium.

Basidiospores - spores produced on a basidium.

Foraging strategies - different adaptations and competition methods used by mychorrhizal fungi to find nutrients and plant hosts.

Fungal sheath - Mass of hyphae around a plant root. Also known as a mantel.

Fungi - Eukaryotic, heterotropic organisms, with cell walls, but lacking roots, chlorophyll, and vascular tissues. Reproduction is by spores. Research has shown the fungi to be more closely related to the animal kingdom than to plants.

Gasteromycetes - subclass of the Basidiomycetes which do not forcibly discharge their spores.

Gleba - the collective tissues which produces spores

Hartig net - a complex of fungal hyphae found in the intercellular spaces between the cortical cells of a root

Host specificity - the ability of one organism to colonize or associate with another. Organisms with low host specificity are able to colonize many other organisms. Organisms with high host specificity may only be able to colonize a few or one other organism.

Hyphae - thread like filaments of the mycelium

Mycelia - a mass of heavily branched hyphae.

Nitrogen cycle - The circulation of nitrogen in an environment in which a cycle of chemical reactions compound atmospheric nitrogen, dissolve it in rain, and deposit it in the soil, where it is metabolized by bacteria, fungi and plants, eventually returning to the atmosphere by bacterial decomposition of organic matter.

Rhizomorphs - 'root-like' mass of hypahe connecting the outer mycelia to the fungal sheath.

Spore Bank - A large accumulation of spores in the soil over time.

Symbiotic relationships - association between different and unlike organisms. In the case of mycorrhizae and plants, the relationship is mutually beneficial.

Vascular land plants - Plants with xylem and phloem including the Lycopods, Horsetails, Ferns, and Seed Plants (conifers and flowering plants).

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