Morel Mushroom Evolution

Gary Novak


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Morel Mushroom
Evolution and biology

Author's research and photographs show extreme biology and transitional evolution in the morel mushroom including phenotypic variation and a reversion anomaly.

photo pages show extreme morel biology





Description of Morels
Summary of Morel Evolution
Biology of the Morel Mushroom
Phenotypic Variation Explained
Photos of Extreme Phenotypes

The morel is in the process of evolving from a single-celled organism (a yeast) into a multi-celled organism. This hasn't happened in hundreds of millions of years, and now the process is observable having begun about 50,000 years ago for the morel and continuing.

University scientists claim the morel is an ancient cup fungus 129 million years old. They get everything wrong on the biology and evolution of the morel, because they focus at a micro level and do not study broad subjects. They claim that a leaf mold (Costantinella cristata) is a conidial stage of the morel. Conidia are microscopic stalks with exposed spores on them—the most common way for molds to form spores.

Early in the last century, Molliard attempted to grow morels on apple compost in the ground. He inoculated it with morel tissue and covered it with leaf compost. A white sheet of leaf mold covered the surface before a few morels came up. So he studied the leaf mold claiming it was a conidial stage of Morchella. The assumption was totally unwarranted, but it still persists. The leaf mold was said to be found in great abundance on dead leaves in the forest. Morchella could not grow in that manner, because it does not tolerate exposure without dehydrating. Also, it is not a decay organism, as it would have to be to grow competitively on dead leaves. Morphological complexities were also uncharacteristic of Morchella including crosiers and rosettes in addition to conidia.

University scientists also get the life cycle wrong. They assume the morel mushroom grows out of an underground spore mass called sclerotia. They don't study enough physiology to understand how mushroom formation occurs. Mushroom scientists have spent decades looking for a substance or microbe that causes mushrooms to form. Twenty years ago, they though acetylene was the cause. Now they are looking for a bacterium. They don't understand the physiology of microbes, because they study in botany departments and are cut off from the vast subject of microbial physiology which is studied in microbiology departments.

What is the anomaly? - Under laboratory conditions the morel forms a tissue on a surface and scrambles its characteristics due to its recent evolution from a yeast.

Anomaly Explained

Extreme Phenotype Pairs

Evolution of Mushrooms The oldest existing mushroom is the puffball. It would have been something similar about 200 to 300 million years ago.


Research by Author

1.  An Anomaly of Morchella as a Tool for the Study of Differentiation
2.  Phenotypic Variation as an Adaptation Mechanism by Morchella

  Figures 1-2 - Pigmented Mycelium
  Figures 3-6 - Differentiation
  Figure 7 - Variations in Anomalies
  Figure 8 - Variations in Morphology

Graduate Research: Novak, G. E. 1981. Edotrophic sporulation by the yeast Nadsonia fulvescens. Can. J. Microbiol. 27: 967-970.


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