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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Mycelium \My*ce"li*um\, n. [NL., fr. Gr. my`khs a mushroom.] (Bot.) The white threads or filamentous growth from which a mushroom or fungus is developed; the so-called mushroom spawn. -- My*ce"li*al, a.


n. The vegetative part of any fungus, consisting of a mass of branching, threadlike hyphae, often underground.

  1. n. the vegetative part of a fungus consisting of a mass of branching threadlike hyphae

  2. [also: mycelia (pl)]


thumb|right|Fungal mycelium

Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus or fungus-like bacterial colony, consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae. The mass of hyphae is sometimes called shiro, especially within the fairy ring fungi. Fungal colonies composed of mycelium are found in and on soil and many other substrates. A typical single spore germinates into a homokaryotic mycelium, which cannot reproduce sexually; when two compatible homokaryotic mycelia join and form a dikaryotic mycelium, that mycelium may form fruiting bodies such as mushrooms. A mycelium may be minute, forming a colony that is too small to see, or it may be extensive:

Through the mycelium, a fungus absorbs nutrients from its environment. It does this in a two-stage process. First, the hyphae secrete enzymes onto or into the food source, which break down biological polymers into smaller units such as monomers. These monomers are then absorbed into the mycelium by facilitated diffusion and active transport.

Mycelium is vital in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems for their role in the decomposition of plant material. They contribute to the organic fraction of soil, and their growth releases carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere (see carbon cycle). Ectomycorrhizal extramatrical mycelium, as well as the mycelium of Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi increase the efficiency of water and nutrient absorption of most plants and confers resistance to some plant pathogens. Mycelium is an important food source for many soil invertebrates.

"Mycelium", like "fungus", can be considered a mass noun, a word that can be either singular or plural. The term "mycelia", though, like "fungi", is often used as the preferred plural form.

Sclerotia are compact or hard masses of mycelium.

Usage examples of "mycelium".

It was as close to immortality as Vod could imagine, these fruiting bodies sprouting from the vast plait of mycelium crisscrossing DownWorld.

Frank or Ernest was referring to the Medusoid Mycelium, which was a type of mushroom, or if Hal was referring to the sugar bowl.

He was worried that the Medusoid Mycelium, which had threatened the life of the youngest Baudelaire just days ago, was affecting her in some sinister way.

Baudelaires did not have time to point out that Olaf had also failed the judges, by planning to poison them, along with everyone else in the lobby, with the Medusoid Mycelium, because the elevator immediately stopped on the second story and opened its doors.

There was the dead white shape of Mycelium masses, the grotesqueness of Agaricus, the deformity of Deadly Amanita and of Morel.

According to De Bary*, when the mycelium penetrates a bud beginning to elongate, the shoot developed from it grows vertically upwards.

It took a long time for people to understand that the fruiting bodies and mycelium they were seeing were all part of a single gigantic life-form.

Even if every fruiting body and all the mycelium aboveground were to die or be eaten, the main body of the individual would remain safe beneath the water.

Settling on branches and leaves, these formed hyphae that reproduced in situ to create new growths, new mycelium.

If then any cause, such as an increased flow of sap or the presence of mycelium, disturbs the constitution of a lateral shoot or of a secondary radicle, it is apt to revert to its primordial state.

Mar Dook here tells me that on other planets, including our own Earth, very simple fungi can be generally found in a symbiotic association with trees, the mycelium of the fungus with the roots of a seed plant.