Beginners Questions

Beginners Questions

Postby Stuart Bates » Mon Jan 16, 2012 12:58 am

Hi all

I got a microscope for Christmas and have been getting used to using it (since I've never owned one before).

I went out the other day and got some Flammulina velutipes and spent a looooooong time trying to get a good enough sample to view in any great detail. After messing around with my thin tweezers, squashing and staining etc... I finally saw the wonders of a mushroom under the microscope... The trouble is, as a beginner, I am yet to figure out just what all these little "sausages" are!! :lol:

Now don't laugh when you look at these photos, I by no means have professional equipment... I stuck my "point & shoot" camera onto the eyepiece and took several pictures until some were "acceptably" visible.

These pictures were all taken from a sample of gill edge tissue.

1) Is the largest, prominent structure (towards the centre of the photo) a cystidia?
Image

2) Again, is the central structure a cystida?
Image

3) If the previous two were cystidia, then what on Earth are these things?
Image

I don't know if these are all basidia, cystidia or just a figment of my imagination at this stage so any help would be greatly appreciated!! :lol:
Stuart Bates
 
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Re: Beginners Questions

Postby Mal Greaves » Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:06 am

Stuart
Welcome to the wonderfully frustrating world of microscopy, which is not a lot different from the wonderfully frustrating world of fungi :?
You have chosen a great fungi to start on the Cheilocystidia ie on the gill edge (rather than the Plurocystidia on the gill face) is almost identical to the basidia.
Basidia often develop no sterigmata and when the cystidia you are looking for are the same club shape it makes the job that much more difficult.
In your case I think the larger element is a Cheilocystidia and the others are basidia in formation.
In future choose something that has distinctive cystidia like this Mycena adscendens with a long spike and short pegs

cheilocystidia.jpg


or this dumpy one with a crew cut from M capillaris

cheilocystidia.jpg


Whatever you do keep trying.

Mal
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Re: Beginners Questions

Postby Leif Goodwin » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:12 am

Well done! A microscope will massively increase your ability to identify fungi. As Mal says, it can be confusing when cystidia are club shaped, as then they can be confused with immature basidia. Why not also try looking at some cultivated mushrooms? You should be able to see the basidia with sterigma and spores. At this time of year you might get some cup fungi on dung and straw, such as Peziza vesiculosa, and see the asci and spores. Some of the Mycena have nice features, such as warty cystidia.
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Re: Beginners Questions

Postby Stuart Bates » Wed Jan 18, 2012 10:05 pm

Thank you both for your feedback... Trust me to pick an awkward species to look at :lol:

Am I right in guessing that Sterigma are the little projections at the top of the basidia, upon which the spores sit before being dispersed?

Funnily enough I did try looking at a shop-bought mushroom but I couldn't see much... probably because my specimen was from a pack of "button" mushrooms and hadn't fully developed any distinguishable features... either that or I just missed everything due to my lack of microscopy experience!! ;)
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Re: Beginners Questions

Postby Leif Goodwin » Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:42 am

Stuart Bates wrote:Thank you both for your feedback... Trust me to pick an awkward species to look at :lol:

Am I right in guessing that Sterigma are the little projections at the top of the basidia, upon which the spores sit before being dispersed?

Funnily enough I did try looking at a shop-bought mushroom but I couldn't see much... probably because my specimen was from a pack of "button" mushrooms and hadn't fully developed any distinguishable features... either that or I just missed everything due to my lack of microscopy experience!! ;)


Yes, them's is sterigma! You might be right about the button mushrooms. To be honest it does take a little experience to learn to see features. You need to get a thin sample from the right area, and you can pick off a bit with needle nosed tweezers, or use a razor blade, or freshly sharpened kitchen knife, to take a slice. I use my posh kitchen knife. And then when the sample is under the scope, you continually adjust the focus as depth of field is very shallow. Sometimes it is dead easy to find what you are looking for, and sometimes it can be a right devil. (Could be poor technique on my part, but I think I'm not too cack handed at this lark.)

Incidentally, not only do open cup mushrooms have mature basidia, they taste better too, in my opinion anyway.

You might also find Field Blewits at this time of year. A few weeks ago I was near Reading, and the fields were full of the beasties.
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Re: Beginners Questions

Postby Stuart Bates » Thu Jan 19, 2012 5:42 pm

I've read all about your super sharp kitchen knives!! :lol:

I got a dissecting kit with thin tweezers, scalpel blades etc... which has been handy but I don't think the tweezers are thin enough.... when you say "needle" nosed, do you literally mean as thin as a needle? I seem to recall reading that you ground yours down... what did you use to do this?

I found plenty of Blewits back in November, unfortunately I didn't have my Microscope back then... Do they have interesting features to look at? Also I completely agree that "open cup" mushrooms taste better!!
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Re: Beginners Questions

Postby Andreas Gminder » Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:52 pm

Hello,

in winter if you want to see some beautiful microscopical details (spores), it's always fun to check, whether the truffled Liver sausage your trusted butcher sells, really contains truffles and which one (Tuber aestivum usually, but Tuber indicum is coming up). Very easy for preparation, just picking a small piece of the black thing in the sausage and putting it in Cotton blue (or congo red, or tap water).

best regards,
Andreas
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Re: Beginners Questions

Postby Stuart Bates » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:58 pm

Truffled Liver Sausage eh? Sounds very interesting indeed.... I shall have to ask Mr. Mettricks (my local butcher) if he would have a go at making some.... Then I can sample both the flavour AND the microscopic details of the truffle (because it's the only way I will be able to find one!!) :D
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Re: Beginners Questions

Postby Ian Knox » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:47 am

Hi All

What a truly informative and interesting thread, being a novice at the microscope myself I found the replies of great interest and the one from Andreas well who would have thought to look in a sausage for specimens, my first thought was some mould growth on the sausage, one of my other interests is curing and smoking meats and have some cultures for making salami etc. so perhaps the mind took me in that direction initially.

Regards

Ian
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Re: Beginners Questions

Postby Andreas Gminder » Fri Jan 20, 2012 9:10 am

Hello,

well, sometimes here in Germany we even are asked by some departments to check food samples. Not whether they are fresh or not, but whether the declaration is correct. So some years ago we had some remarkable cheap "Italian Boletus edulis in oil" offered by a big super market with hundreds of plants in Germany. Those turned out to be Suillus granulatus! So this is a false declaration and they had to take all the stuff back from their super market shelfs. :mrgreen:
Not rarely there are checks, whether the truffled products are really truffeled, and whether the truffle species declaration is correct. You know, the quality (and therefore the price) of the different truffles varies considerably. It makes a lot of difference, whether you use Tuber melanosporum (kg ca. 2-3000 Euro) or Tuber aestivum (kg. ca. 200-300 Euro) or even Tuber indicum (kg ca. 100 Euro or even less). Those three black truffles can be kept apart from one another by the spore ornamentation and therefore you can determine even small particles in sausage or soup etc.
I even found once spores of Scleroderma, and a friend of mine found some Boletaceae-spores, probably from Leccinum.

best regards,
Andreas
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