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Bioessays. 2002 Oct;24(10):949-52.

Mushroom stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Botany, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio 45056, USA.


Contrary to the rarity of totipotent cells in animals, almost every cell formed by a fungus can function as a "stem cell". The multicellular fruiting bodies of basidiomycete fungi consist of the same kind of filamentous hyphae that form the feeding phase, or mycelium, of the organism, and visible cellular differentiation is almost nonexistent. Mushroom primordia develop from masses of converging hyphae, and the stipe (or stem), cap, and gills are clearly demarcated within the embryonic fruiting body long before the organ expands and unfolds through water uptake and cell wall loosening. Though frequent references are made to gilled mushrooms in this article, the totipotent nature of fruiting body cells and lack of meristems is also applicable to basidiomycetes that spread their spore-producing tissues inside tubes (e.g., boletes), over spines and rippled surfaces, or form spores in cavities within the fruiting body. Even in the mature mushroom, every hypha retains its totipotency. Among animals, only sponges exhibit a similar degree of developmental flexibility, which is interesting, because these simple metazoans may be relatively close relatives of fungi.

Copyright 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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