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Saturday, 12 September 2015

"Mating Experiment"

Chlorociboria aeruginascens -  Green Elf Cup

Chlorociboria aeruginascens  - Green Elf Cup is a common species, however it is nearly always evidenced by the green staining it leaves in the wood of it's host.
Much rarer are the fruiting bodies, the actual Green Elf Cups.
We often come across pieces of branch which show this typical green colouration - but never ever the fruiting bodies.

Walking through the wood one day, Emily asked me whether it was possible to make it produce fruiting bodies. Normally trying to get a fungus to produce fb's to order is virtually impossible. However in this case, and with nothing to lose, we decided to give it a try.
I took a piece of fallen branch which was infected with the fungus and whittled it down into a V shape, a bit like an elongated wedge. The opposite procedure, cutting a V into a fallen Hazel branch which also showed signs of infection, left me with two pieces designed to fit snugly together. Pushing them together and binding them left the mycelial hyphae of the two individuals in close contact with each other in the hope they would form a clamp connection and produce fb's.
We then waited, going back every so often to check on progress.
 Almost 6 months to the day, fruiting bodies have now appeared.Whether these would have appeared anyway or were due to the experiment is impossible to say, however given the fact that they only appeared in the immediate vicinity of the "graft" and nowhere else along the branch, and given the fact that fb's are rarely seen it does not seem unreasonable to suppose that the experiment met with some success. 


  1. Splendid work Emily and Tony ---- I wonder if the development of fb's is a response to 'stress'. Many ascos appear in tractor tracks of machines working in Pembrey forest but none in undisturbed ground close-by ---- then when all settled and plant growth none of these fungi are seen. Perhaps we need to disturb the substrate a bit more ---- anti-conservation!

  2. Ah - interesting. Now we must find out if Chlorociboria is heterokaryotic , may be given the production of fb's where they meet. Well done!

  3. That Nigel is, as they used to say, the $64,000 question. I think many fungi exhibit heterokaryosisis. Needs something more than my microscope on the kitchen table to find the answer. That being said, I think it's now generally accepted that Heterokaryons make better growth than their component Homokaryons, so maybe???
    Since the relative proportions of the genetically different nuclei in the heterokaryon can vary as a response to change, it would lend weight to Philip's argument about environmental perturbation.

  4. I've been monitoring a stick with Chlorociboria for the past couple of years. No fruiting bodies. Maybe I should snap it in half and see what happens. Great experiment Tony and Emily.