Sexual Fungi: What Gender Are They, Anyway?

 

Sexy Mushroom

Sexual Gender and Fungi

Sex is a hot topic.  Apparently this is true not only among the Animal and Plant Kingdom,  but within the Fungal Kingdom as well. There’s actually quite a lot happening there,  and Kink may play a role.

When choosing a sexual partner,  there are many variables involved.  Are we physically attracted?  Does the other person turn us on Mentally? Emotionally?  Spiritually?
Well,  it seems that some Fungi may be even more complex in their sexual preferences; picky perhaps,  but that’s debatable.

robertson_phallus_hadriani

Phallus Impudicus – The Stinkhorn

When I look at a mushroom,  I have often times thought,  “Oh my!  It looks quite phallic,  does it not?!” 

The iconic image of a mushroom does resemble the sexual organs of a man, I must admit, but if you look just a little closer you may notice something different. Let us, then….




Upon further inspection,  I look at the gills,  touch them with my fingers,  delicate and lovely.  I ponder the many billions of spores produced by just one single organism,  and I liken it to the vision of a powerful Womyn,  with the strength to create and procreate Entire Worlds!  A grandiose thought perhaps,  but still within the realm of possibilities and realities.

6a00d8341c5e1453ef00e54f82ea4a8834-640wi

Delving deeper into this hot topic I find that the sex lives of Fungi are most interesting; possibly even kinky in nature.  And perhaps kinkiness is relative… But that is another topic all together.

In case you didn’t know,  Fungi reproduce through spores,  some floating and flurrying through the air,  and some swimming in water,  in search for the perfect partner.  Yes,  they actually search out their perfect mate.

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Some of the sexual preferences of Fungi are referred to as Heterothallic. Yes, Heterothallic just like a Heterosexual person.  The “male-like”  spores seek out the “female-like spores”  and upon finding will begin producing their sexual hormones in order to “get it on”,  if you will.  Others are referred to as Homothallic,  which means that they enjoy the simplicity of self-pleasure in order to reproduce.  Just imagine that every time you self-pleasured,  there was the chance of pregnancy!!!

And to make matters even more complicated, sexual reproduction in the Fungi consists of three sequential stages: plasmogamy, karyogamy, and meiosis. We are talking sex on the nuclear level here, which sounds EXPLOSIVE to me.

Some species of Fungi are very diverse in their reproductive habits.  For example,  the mushroom Schizophyllum commune is a common species having 28,000 different sexes.  That’s right…You heard it, folks: 28,000 different sexes. Try and wrap your brain around that! These little spores have options!   (For better or for worse,  it’s hard to say)

penis-mushroomSome are more Male in their makeup,  while others appear more Female… And yet there are still the spores that seek out and mate with those that are nearly identical.  Are these considered gay spores? Maybe.

So it is my human understanding that some spores swing both ways?  Or many ways? But consider the possibilities!

 

And so back to my thoughts on the Masculine or Feminine appearance of Fungi.  Maybe I’m more open sexually then some,  but when I ponder these lovely organisms I experience the complexities: the Male and Female, the Hermaphrodite, the Transgendered, and Homosexual.

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Art by: Eveline Tarunadjaja

It has been posed to me that perhaps Fungi preceed sexual gender,  but my thoughts are quite the opposite.  Fungi seem sexually advanced,  compared to that of the human species. And without further study (on my part) ,  it is hard to say if this makes it easier to find a mate or much more difficult.  But either way,  it is quite a fascinating subject to me,  not only because of the complexities of such a widespread species,  but because of my own deviant mind.

So, are Fungi more Male or Female?….   I guess it depends on your preference.

 

Can Mushrooms Save the Planet?

 

smith_amanita_phalloides_01

 

Sources:

The Sex Habits of Water Molds:  http://www.apsnet.org/edcenter/intropp/PathogenGroups/Pages/IntroOomycetes.aspx

Schizophyllum commune:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizophyllum_commune

Tom Volk’s Fungus of the Month Feb. 2000:  http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/feb2000.html

Science NetLinks – Fungal Sex:  http://sciencenetlinks.com/science-news/science-updates/fungal-sex/

National Center for Biotechnology Information – Sex in Fungi: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310392/

The Strange Beauty & The Strange Sex Life of Mushrooms:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwMH0tMfeWc

The Sex Life of Fungi of The Radical Mycology Convergence 2012:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgTpbdcowJo

Fungi Reproduction:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GDBeuXhz4nA  

 

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