What is Mycena?

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Researchers recently found that mushrooms of the genus Mycena, called bonnet mushrooms, not only live off of dead trees and plants but also find their way into young, healthy trees and plants, where they try to cooperate.

About Mycena

  • Mycena is a large genus of small saprotrophic mushrooms in the family Mycenaceae.
  • The genus is now known to include about 500 species worldwide.
  • Habitat: They can be found on decaying wood, leaf litter, or soil, and they often appear in clusters or small groups.
  • Features:
    • Most of the species are extremely small mushrooms, rarely exceeding a few centimeters in diameter and often only reaching diameters of a few millimeters. 
    • Majority of species are grey, brown, and white in color, while a few are brightly colored.
    • They are characterized by a white spore print, a small conical or bell-shaped cap, and a thin, fragile stem.
    • Most have a translucent and striate cap, which rarely has an incurved margin.
    • These mushrooms have closely spaced, free, or attached gills that run down the stem. The gill color can be white, cream, or pinkish.
    • Mycenas are hard to identify as species, and some are distinguishable only by microscopic features such as the shape of the cystidia.
    • Some species are known to be edible, while some are known to contain toxins, but most of them are not known, as they are too small to be useful in cooking.
    • Some species are bioluminescent, meaning they can emit a faint, greenish glow in low-light conditions. 

Q1) What are saprotrophs?

Saprotrophs, also known as saprophytes, are a group of organisms, mainly microorganisms, fungi, and some plants, that obtain their nutrients by decomposing dead or decaying organic matter. These organisms play a vital role in ecosystems by breaking down complex organic materials, such as dead plants, animals, and other organic debris, into simpler compounds like carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus.

Source: Fungal evolution discovered: Mycena can now invade living hosts