Last three photos are acanthocyte cells found on the Hypomyces. Perhaps they are made by the Lactarius in response to the attack of the ascomycete. I was unable to trace there origin and the middle photo shows the point of attachment that is broken off. The Mycotaxon article referenced below by Farr shows how they grow. The literature shows them on Stropharia and also something similar on Coprinus comatus. I could NOT find any reference to Lactarius or any species of ascomycete.
An excellent photo of acanthocytes by George Barron.
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Contamination by vascular plant tricomes (hairs) has also been suggested as a possibility by Dr. Largent, but so far, none found seem to match.
I can see where the acanthocytes would inhibit insect predation, but how would it affect another fungus like a hypomyces? Very bizarre that you found these structures in a Lactarius; could they be related to substrate or mineral content of the soils where the mushrooms grow? What would create these crystalline structures, anyway (yeah I know, Calcium crystals, but WHY are they crystallizing?). And according to your Mycotaxon article, they are found primarily on the vegetative hyphae of Stropharia, not the fruit bodies. Very curious.
Created: 2008-04-18 20:53:41 PDT (-0700)
Last modified: 2008-04-22 20:58:41 PDT (-0700)
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