Glossary | All things Fungi


Commonly used terminologies in mushroom cultivation

Mushroom cultivation is quite technical and involves a lot of jargon that can be intimidating if you are just starting out. Don’t let these difficult terminologies put you off from exploring the fascinating space of Fungiculture.

For all you first-time growers we have put together a glossary of some of the most commonly used terms and what they mean.

  1. Aborts: A mushroom that for some reason stops growing and never reaches maturity. They can be of varying sizes.
  2. Agar: A powder derived from seaweed used as a nutritive media for petri dishes
  3. Autoclave: A machine that uses steam under pressure as a physical method of sterilization to kill unwanted microorganisms present in the material placed inside of the vessel.
  4. Biological Efficiency: A commonly used measure of yield. It is calculated as the ratio of the weight of your total harvest of fresh mushrooms to the weight of the wet substrate.
  5. Colonization: The process when mycelia grow through the substrate, grain, or agar-filled petri dishes. When the mycelia have grown completely through the media, it is said to be fully colonized
  6. Contamination: Anything living on your substrate or agar plates that are unwanted. Typically, bacteria or harmful fungi.
  7. Culture: A piece of living mushroom mycelium that contains all the living matter and genetic material required to produce fruiting bodies.
  8. Ergosterol: A biological precursor of vitamin D2, the chemical name of which is ergocalciferol. Exposure to ultraviolet light causes a photochemical reaction that converts ergosterol to ergocalciferol. Ergosterol can be converted to vitamin D2 under ultraviolet radiation. Due to the high water content of fresh mushroom, its quality deteriorates rapidly after harvest, and drying is the most commonly used technology to extend the shelf life. The vitamin D2 content of dried mushrooms depends on the drying conditions used.
  9. Fruiting: The event when mushrooms emerge on the substrate
  10. Fruitbody: A typical mushroom
  11. Hypha:  It is a long, branching filamentous or thread-like structure of a fungus that form mycelium
  12. Inoculation: The act of adding a piece of live mushroom culture to grain or adding grain spawn to the substrate
  13. Mycelium: It is the vegetative part of a fungus that consists of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae
  14. Pasteurization: It is the process of applying low heat to inactivate spoilage enzymes and kill pathogens. It does not truly sterilize a product because bacterial spores do not get killed in the process.
  15. Pin, Primordia, Pinning:  Small, immature fruit bodies that are beginning to grow, which mature into mushrooms.
  16. Senescence: When the mycelium has crossed its potential exponential growth and loses vigor. Using any mushroom culture past this point will lead to poor fruiting and increased chances of contamination.
  17. Spawn: Any material that is overrun with mycelium and is used to inoculate a substrate. The most commonly used material in spawn is grain.
  18. Spores: The “seeds” of the mushroom that contain one-half of the genetic material required for the mycelium growth to begin.
  19. Sterilization: A process used to kill all living organisms in a substrate or spawn. Usually carried out by heating the material in an Autoclave so that the temperature can reach 121 degrees Celsius for a fixed period of time.
  20. Substrate: A medium such as straw, sawdust, coco coir, manure, waste paper, etc which is used for mycelial growth.


I hope we have covered everything, but in case there is something that you would like more information on, anything related to fungi and mushrooms, please do reach out to us.


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