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The Bird's Nest Fungi

The Bird's Nest Fungi

Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 200
  • Book Info
    The Bird's Nest Fungi
    Book Description:

    All known species of Nidulariaceae, including many only recently recognized, are described in this volume. Brodie reports on all aspects of growth, structure, development, and life-cycle of these fungi, both in nature and in laboratory culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-3251-6
    Subjects: Biological Sciences, Environmental Science, Botany & Plant Sciences, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    This book, which represents the work of a distinguished investigator’s professional life-time, will be welcomed by all mycologists, teachers, and researchers alike, for it is as complete a treatise on a group of relatively little known but most interesting fungi as our present knowledge permits.

    The Bird’s Nest Fungiis not a taxonomic revision but a monograph in every sense of the term. In fact, the author emphasizes the biology of these fungi and more especially the interesting mechanism they employ in releasing their propagules more than their classification, which, however, he does not neglect completely.

    Although throughout his discussion...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. Organization and Use of the Book
    (pp. xiv-2)
  6. 1 General Account of the Nidulariaceae
    (pp. 3-13)

    The first encounter with a member of the gas-teromycete fungi known as the Nidulariaceae or bird’s nest fungi usually engenders in the mind of the observer, whether a professional botanist or an amateur nature lover, a feeling of delight and wonder: delight certainly, because of the symmetry and artistic form of the small vase-shaped or bell-shaped fruit bodies; wonder probably, if the observer is at all curious as to why the little cups should be filled with small lentil-shaped bodies resembling seeds. The whole fruit body bears a general resemblance to a miniature bird's nest containing eggs, whence the common...

  7. 2 Brief Historical Outline
    (pp. 14-22)

    The Nidulariaceae have received more attention from botanists from the time of Clusius (1601) (see end of this chapter) to the present than is commensurate with their size and their seemingly modest role in nature. The reason for this interest is plainly that they, unlike most fungi, possess reproductive bodies which not only are large enough to be seen by the naked eye but which are sufficiently like seeds in size, shape, and colour to have been mistaken for them by those early botanists who were anxious to classify fungi as seed producers.

    The story of the growth of knowledge...

  8. 3 Basidiospore Form, Development, and Germination
    (pp. 23-31)

    The basidiospores of the Nidulariaceae are unicellular and colourless with the exception of those ofMycocalia sphagnetiwhich are reported to be yellowish-brown. In shape they vary from spherical, through ovoid to ellipsoid (figures 5, 8). Only in one species,Crucibulum cyathiforme(Brodie, 1971c), they have been reported to be slightly curved.

    The greatest variation among spores of the different species is seen in their size, which ranges from 4 u inCyathus microsporusto a remarkable 50 u in diameter occasionally recorded for C.poeppigii.Moreover, in many species the spores, even in a single peridiole, may vary greatly...

  9. 4 Characteristics and Interactions of Homokaryotic Mycelia
    (pp. 32-43)

    If individual sporelings of the Nidulariaceae, each derived from a single basidiospore, are transferred to a suitable nutrient agar medium, most of them develop rapidly into homokaryotic (haploid) mycelia having many characteristics in common with those of other members of the Basidiomycetes grown in laboratory culture. Only a few bird’s nest fungi have special features in culture.

    Most homokaryotic mycelia appear, to the unaided eye, fluffy, radially symmetrical, and of fine texture (figure 11). Most are snow-white at first, but many, though not all, later develop brown pigments in varying degree, with the result that ten-day-old cultures are commonly light...

  10. 5 Heterokaryotic Mycelium and Fruit Body Formation
    (pp. 44-70)

    Anastomosis between two monosporous homokaryotic mycelia of sexually compatible strains leads to the formation of the heterokaryotic (dikaryotic) phase of the Nidulariaceae. To the unaided eye, heterokaryotic mycelium of many species is readily distinguishable from homokaryotic in being fluffier, coarser, and more regular (figures 11, 14). In some species (e.g.,Cyathus stercoreus) the heterokaryon may be more heavily pigmented than either parental homokaryon. One of the most striking examples of gross morphological difference is seen in the mycelia of C.olla: homokaryotic mycelium of this species is snow-white and composed of fine hyphae, and the edge of the colony appears...

  11. 6 Morphology and Behaviour of Nuclei
    (pp. 71-79)

    What was known of the behaviour of nuclei in the Nidulariaceae prior to 1953 was largely the result of the studies of R. E. Fries (1911) concerningNidularia pisiformis (N. farcta).Fries’s material was fixed in Flemming’s Solution (strength not indicated) and stained with iron-haematoxylin. Safranin was also employed and gave better detail for some stages of nuclear division.

    According to Fries’s account, two nuclei are regularly present in the young hyphae from which basidia develop in young fruit bodies. These nuclei are seldom more than 1-2μin diameter. As the hyphae mature into young basidia, the two haploid...

  12. 7 The Fruit Body as a Spore Dispersal Mechanism
    (pp. 80-92)

    It will be shown in this chapter that the sporocarps ofCyathus,the most highly developed genus of the Nidulariaceae, may be regarded, as Buller (1942) regarded them, as ‘splash-cups’; each sporocarp is a special structure of the right size, shape, position, and consistency to make use of the kinetic energy of large falling drops of rain in such a way that pendióles are splashed out of the cups and on to surrounding vegetation.

    In dealing with this subject, I am aware of the dangers of a philosophy of teleology. The fact is that the early investigators of the structure...

  13. 8 Experiments on Splash Dispersal of Peridióles
    (pp. 93-100)

    That falling raindrops might cause the pendióles of bird’s nest fungi to be splashed out of the fruiting bodies was suggested by Ray as long ago as 1686. No experimental evidence to establish this fact, however, was given until Martin (1927) actually succeeded in splashing pendióles ofCrucibulum laeveby dropping water into the cups in the laboratory. Martin’s evidence also suggested that the pendióles, after ejection, may adhere to vegetation.

    Another glimmering of the idea that rain splash has some connection with the form and position of pendióles is found in the two editions of Withering’s (1776,1792)A Botanical...

  14. 9 Occurrence, Distribution, and Ecology
    (pp. 101-118)

    The following records of the occurrence and distribution of bird’s nest fungi will do more to raise questions than to answer them. The justification for including them lies, it is hoped, in their value as a possible stimulus for future investigations and in whatever interest may be aroused by the unusual circumstances under which these fungi are occasionally found in their natural abodes. A bird’s nest fungus is like gold, which, as the early settlers used to say, ‘is where you find it’.

    One can characterize only in general terms the sites in which the Nidulariaceae may be sought with...

  15. 10 Miscellaneous Observations and Notes
    (pp. 119-125)

    Long acquaintance with any group of organisms often results in a miscellany of knowledge not particularly pertinent to the main research objectives. What seems to be the most significant of such material is dealt with hereunder.

    I have no record of fruit bodies of the Nidulariaceae ever having been consumed as food for humans. The fruit bodies are not sufficiently large, fleshy, or odorous to be of interest to humans as food, although apparently snails and insects occasionally consume fresh sporocarps (Chapter 9, c, 1(d)).

    The question has been raised occasionally as to whether or not the Nidulariaceae would be...

  16. 11 Review of Taxonomic Characters
    (pp. 126-132)

    Although my acquaintance with the Nidulariaceae has been a fairly long one and even although I am responsible for the names of a few of them, the following account of their taxonomy is presented mainly with the belief that it would be a service to mycologists to gather all descriptions into one place. While so many species are still represented in herbaria only by such scanty collections, the attempt to assess the evidence is difficult and the result should not be regarded as ultimately authoritative.

    The problems involved in classifying and identifying fungi of the family Nidulariaceae are typical of...

  17. 12 The Genera Nidularia and Mycocalia
    (pp. 133-141)

    The bird’s nest fungi which, until recently, have been properly assigned to the genusNidulariaare now divided between two genera,NidulariaandMycocalia.The latter was established by Palmer (1961b). Despite legalistic difficulties, Palmer proposed conservation of the genus nameNidulariaof Fries and he distinguishedNidulariafromMycocaliaprincipally on the following basis:

    Peridium robust, tufted when young, cream to cinnamon in colour; peridium includingtinted,rigid,spinose aseptate hyphaewhich continue into long simple threads (figure 49b, c)NidulariaPeridium thin, usually white, ephemeral; peridium formed ofhyaline,branched,septate hyphae bearingclamp connections (figure 49a)Mycocalia...

  18. 13 The Genera Nidula and Crucibulum
    (pp. 142-149)

    White’s description of the genus as given above must be expanded if the reader is to be able to visualize the genus and the four beautiful fungi at present known to belong to it. The shape of the fruit bodies of three of the four species is that of a mug, i.e., a cup with almost vertical sides (figure 51), the lip of which is flared or bent outwards. In colour the cups are white, grey, or buff in three species, tawny inN. macrocarpa.The fruit bodies are massive, thick-walled (with the exception of one species) and are covered...

  19. 14 The Genus Cyathus
    (pp. 150-181)

    Peridium microscopically composed of three distinct layers, macroscopically at first closed by a thin whitish epiphragm, which dehisces by an irregular rupture. Pendióles lenticular, dark-coloured, in some species covered by a thin tunica, attached to the inner wall of the peridium by a funiculus of complex structure. Basidiospores hyaline, variable in size and shape.

    From the two other genera of the Nidulariaceae in which the fruit bodies are cupulate or vase-shaped,Cyathusis distinguished as follows: fromCrucibulumin the distinctly threelayered wall and the complex funiculus; fromNidula in the presence of the funiculus.

    Cyathusis of worldwide distribution,...

  20. Nidulariana
    (pp. 182-187)

    ‘The Nidulariaceae have previously been the subject of numerous dissertations: there is scarcely a treatise on the origin and reproduction of fungi in which they are not mentioned extensively, either to furnish arguments for writers who favour the existence of seeds in the lower plants or, on the other hand, as objects of controversy as to whether or not they possess internally the true reproductive bodies. ... it appeared to us, however, that there still remained some points to be cleared up, the manner of fructification to be discovered, a great number of details of organization to be elucidated, etc....

  21. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 188-192)
  22. Glossary
    (pp. 193-194)
  23. Index
    (pp. 195-199)
  24. Back Matter
    (pp. 200-200)