Mushroom Spores 101 : Everything you wanted to know.

Lets talk a bit about mushroom spores...

  1. What even is a spore?
  2. When two spores love each other very much.
  3. Collecting / storing your own spores.
  4. What's the deal with magic mushroom spores?
  5. Spores syringes vs Liquid culture
  6. My spore syringe is contaminated, what do?
  7. How do I grow mushrooms from spore?

What even is a spore?

Photograph of spores

Photo by Alan Rockefeller (Mushroom Observer)

Spores are little units of sexual reproduction. Mushrooms are a bit like humans in that they need two compatible sets of genetics to produce offspring. The unit of reproduction is haploid, this means each cell contains one set of chromosomes and requires two to produce viable offspring.

Spores are hardy little bastards, they can withstand a lot of abuse (temp / moisture fluctuations). In the wild, they have to survive until they find a suitable substrate in which to search for another compatible organism to make sweet love to.

Spores start their little tiny lives in the reproductive structure of the fungus (basida for basidomycota, asci for ascomycota).

(I can't draw good, so here's...) Mushroom Life Cycle by Yellow Elanor

A single spore will germinate and send out hyphae in different directions searching for compatible hyphae to fuse to (plasmogamy), one they fuse then we have both sets of chromosomes, you get mycelium which is capable then of creating the fruiting bodies of the organism. Mycelium is thicker as it's multiple fused hyphae.

When two spores love each other very much.

Once germinated, hyphae are looking for other mycelium from their own species, if they bump up against competing species they are likely to react by either inhibiting or outright parasitising the weaker opposition.

Even when two hyphae do find each other and they are the same species they (like human beings) don't always wanna bump uglies and do plasmogamy. Maybe they chew with their mouth open or their nose does a horrendous whistling when they breath. Who knows?

Mycelium has a friendzone too.

When spores are germinated on agar you can clearly see the zone of inhibition when two organisms don't want to perform the act.

Photo : Someone in Brazil.
Here you can lovely rhizomorphs (rope like threads of mycelium) which with Psilocybe cubensis are a sign of strong mycelium with vigorous fruiting potential*.  These spores have tinder matched the heck out of each other.
* not in the UK though, you silly goose.

Collecting and storing your own spores.

Spores are cool. We've established this. What if I told you we can trap and imprison the spores for science.

Here's what you need...

  1. A fresh mushroom.
  2. Foil.
  3. A wide glass. 
  4. Ziplock bag.
  5. Desiccant sachet.

You will need a fresh mushroom which is just reaching maturity for this, overly mature mushrooms will have dropped most of their spores. Immature mushrooms will not have developed enough to drop enough spores.

This works for all spore baring mushrooms, simply place the mushroom on a large enough piece of foil to encompass the size of the mushroom gill / pore / spore surface down. If you are working with a cap and stem mushroom, remove the stem first to allow the cap to sit level on your foil. Put a few drops of water on the the cap or above side and place a large enough glass over the top of it to create some humidity.

Leave overnight.

In the morning you should have a lovely dense looking spore print. Remove the mushroom and allow the spore print to air dry.

A dense spore deposit on foil

Looks like an ink print of an asshole, is actually magic mushroom spores.