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iLabs: Lab Mystery #4 – The Strange Item in the Picture Revealed

June 22, 2012

The identity of the strange life form in yesterday’s post – Would you believe…….

instruction sheet for shiitake mushroom log kit

The instruction sheet for a Shiitake mushroom kit that includes a hardwood log pre-inoculated with Shiitake mushrooms

Commercially available inexpensive gourmet mushroom kits to grow at home in your kitchen (and thus give you fresh mushrooms for your culinary adventures) have become very popular. You can find them online from several companies as well as in grocery stores. The mystery photo was of a Shiitake-mushroom-inoculated hardwood log kit we have here in the lab.

Here are some shots of the same log, pulling back for a wider view:

hardwood log growing shiitake mushrooms

A wider view shows the mycelia and small mushrooms covering the log.

hardwood log inoculated with Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms growing out of a hardwood log

The above photos show the inoculated log, sitting in a plastic bin, on top of a sponge that is resting in a thin layer of water. The last photo shows the whole log covered by a perforated plastic bag. The whole point is to create an atmosphere of high humidity, without having the log sitting directly in a puddle of water. The sponge absorbs water from the liquid in the bottom of the bin, then slowly transfers it to the hardwood log.  There is also a small 1″ deep and 1″ around hole punched in the top of the log that is filled with water twice a day. The log needs to remain moist so the growing mushrooms can draw moisture and nutrients from the decaying wood. The entire log is covered with a plastic bag that will let air in but retain moisture around the log culture.

Now you may wonder just what is the Micro World doing with a gourmet mushroom kit in the lab. In an upcoming post I will share exactly what we are going to do with this mushroom culture….and several others, as well as several wood rot fungi cultures too.  And then of course, there is our pet slime mold….. 🙂  Explanations will be given in the coming weeks.

One thing is for sure – the Micro World Investigate Lab is ALIVE!!!!

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