The Joy of Fungal Sex by Patrick Leacock
This presentation looks at the strange and wonderful diversity of reproductive strategies and life cycle options. Ever since fungi arrived on the land and developed hyphae, they have explored many ways to propagate, soon rejecting the basic male-female sex paradigm. Some fungi have two mating types; other fungi can have hundreds or thousands. Many life forms such as molds reproduce asexually, but when the going gets tough, some fungi can self-reproduce sexually. Mushrooms have gone a step further to keep their options open. Rather than cells having a diploid nucleus following mating, the nuclei from the two mated individuals remain separate, forming a dikaryon with two haploid nuclei in each cell. Oh and those mushrooms that we love to collect and cook for dinner – those are spore-producing sex organs.
Patrick is a mycologist documenting the mushrooms of the Chicago Region with collections going to the Field Museum of Natural History. He teaches botany and mycology at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He assists on forays as a scientific advisor for the IMA. He started his mushroom activities with the Minnesota Mycological Society before moving to Chicago. Patrick is also active with the North American Mycological Association and served as Voucher Coordinator for 20 years. Visit Patrick’s website at www.mycoguide.com
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