No, I’m not referring to knock-off bourbon. The chickens have been out in full force the last several weeks. Once we started getting rains, the mycelium drank it up and used it as rocket propellant in the synchronized cellular explosions we refer to as “fruiting.”
Recently my days have me on the hunt and my nights have me in front of the flowhood cloning. Not easy with a broken right hand covered in a less than sanitary cast. Don’t ask.
I should explain the process of “cloning.” If you’re a fungal novice- here’s one concept you should get down: mycelium. This is the main part of the fungus- it is the fungus. The mushroom is just the sexual organ that produces spores (think about that next time you crack a can of cream of mushroom soup). The mushroom is actually mycelium itself- mycelium that’s been compressed and interwoven and finally expanded into the recognizeable forms we see in the produce aisle.
Because mushrooms are simply modified mycelium, we can put sterile pieces of interior mushroom tissue down on a petri dish (with agar medium) and mycelium will grow out. This is cloning. If you put a bunch of spores on a petri dish you will end up with many strains because spores are haploid and when they combine it’s like sexual reproduction. A clone is an exact copy of the “parent.” In case you’re wondering i did drop some personal diploid DNA on a dish so I can grow an assistant and in case I ever ingest amatoxins and need an extra set of kidneys.
<–Two non-compatible strains remaining separate on a dish. note the orange color of the mycelium.
Chicken mushroom mycelium is unique in several ways. For one, it’s white and orange- most mycelium is white. Rhizomorphic honey mushroom mycelium is black. Second, chicken mycelium becomes aerial, meaning that it breaks into short chains which can float away in the wind (see FAQ).
Making a “master” slant means that you are preserving an early stage of the mycelium of a given strain. This is important because if were to keep growing mycelium by taking old mycelium and putting it on new substrate, mutations and other processes will degrade the quality of the mycelium permanently and eventually you will lose the strain. This is called senescence.
My goal at the moment is to harvest as many wild strains as possible, clone them, make master slants, and when the season’s over, begin growing them on grain and sawdust.
Unfortunately the Toshiba grant we applied for was not accepted. So, we’re looking into other methods of raising money. I originally wanted to make a Kickstarter to scale up the fruiting chamber, but we may need to use the Kickstarter to fund a complete lab and small-scale fruiting chamber at Saul H.S.
Finally, some mycoporn for all you fungiphiles and mycophages. Some of what has been popping up since the late summer rains: