Why do fungi grow in rings?

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The fungal spores disseminate a network of tube shaped threads which are extended all around in all the directions. The fungal threads reach out similar to the spokes that radiate from the wheel. Some of us might have seen the mushrooms growing in circular fashion. The growth of them in the ring form can happen in the case of few mushrooms. Mushroom called Giant puffball will also form rings and grow in circular pattern.

The fungi that grow in circular pattern are observed to grow from underground initiated from a spore. The spore gives rise to numerous threads which spreads in all directions in a circular form. The periphery of the circle is chosen by the mushrooms to grow further. So, it appears as if the mushrooms are growing on the edge of the circle. The fungal rings are made by mushrooms and they appear in grassy areas and in forests.

The fungus that grows in ring form in grasses possesses the botanical name as Marasmius oreades. This fungus will have its mycelium hidden in the ground. The fungus grows outward in circular fashion. As the mycelium keeps on growing in the ground it makes use of all the nutrients present in the soil such that the nutrients are no longer available to the grass.  That is why the region that is adjacent to the growing mycelium consists of dead grass.

The umbrella shaped bodies of the mushrooms arise from the extreme edge of the mycelium. If the mycelium that is slightly older at the central region of the ring dies after it gets no more nutrients from the soil in that region. As the nutrients are again regained by the soil, the grass starts growing at that place.  The fungal mycelium that is present at the edge of the ring will grow towards the periphery and give out certain chemicals. These chemicals will break up the organic material in the soil and form nutrients. These nutrients will aid in growth of fungus in that area again.

Author: Hari M

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