Club Fungi: Mushrooms, Rusts and Smuts
Mushrooms, toadstools, bracket fungi, shelf fungi, puffballs and other various parasites such as rust and smuts are club fungi. Club fungi reproduce by spores. The mushroom is the fruiting body. The roots which are really the mycelium grow in very fertile soil or other plant and/or animal organic matter. The mycelium may live for years, slowly growing underground. Only when the conditions are favorable do mushrooms (the fruiting body) grow up above the surface. The spores are formed in the gills located within the cap. Under close examination the spores are produced in an area of the gills that are shaped like clubs. Rusts are club fungi that produce rust- colored spores during one phase of their life cycle. Rusts are parasites on wheat, barley, oats, and other crops. Each year they cause millions of dollars of damage to crops. Smuts are similar to rusts. Their name refers to the black dusty-looking mass of spores they form within the tissues of the host plant. Smuts attack corn, wheat, oats, barley, and rye.