Biospeleology of the Piemonte
(North-western Italy)

Systematic Photographic
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Fungi

In the world without light inside the caves the plants can't survive, but here can live other organisms belonging to a parallel living kingdom which representatives don't need the sunbeam to grow. They are the "Fungi" (latin term), some of which became parasite of Insects Coleoptera (like the Laboulbeniales that parasite the Trechinae of the genus Duvalius). Other species grow on the dead bodies of insects that die in the caves, like this butterflies of the genus Triphosa (photos below) that remained attached to the walls where they died during the hibernation in the "Grotta del Lupo superiore" (Higher Cave of the Wolf) (Gola delle Fascette, CN).

       

The fruit-bearing bodies or "carpophores" are commonly known as "Mushrooms" and are the reproductive organs of the true body of the fungus, formed by the web of subterranean mycelium that colonize the ground. The carpophores of some fungi growing in the caves, in an atmosphere with a rate of relative humidity near the 100%, assume unusuals shapes.

 

In the Rio Martino Cave the author observed during two years some strange fungi with hairy stems.

The prof. Ceruti, celebrate mycologist of the Turin Botanical Garden, made a dubitative attribution of these fungi to the genus Mycena but he couldn't be more precise because the carpophores weren't mature. We tried to cultivate them, but wasn't possible to obtain spores, necessary for the determination of these organisms. In the epigean environment the carpophores of the fungi belonging to the genus Mycena are thin and only 10 cm long, with smooth stem; in the Rio Martino Cave the author observed carpophores with hairy stems and long until 50 cm.

This group of carpophores, found in the Caudano Caves, seems to the Mycena of the Rio Martino Cave and maybe it is another species belonging to this genus, or a case of morphological convergence due to the similar environment. The carpophores of the fungi show in the caves a lengthened habitus and live a longer time than in the epigean environment.

The species in the photo by the side is Hypholoma fasciculare, the so-called "bad honey mushroom" that grows abundant on the boards of Ontano wood (Alnus sp.) that constitue the footbridges in the non tourist branches of Bossea. The mycelium was probably present in the original wood, but they grow from many years on those planks.

The Coprinus narcoticus grows sometimes on very damp pieces of wood in the cavernicole environment and we can easily recognize it because of its white color and the little or most little size of the carpohores; the specimen in the photo by the side has been photographed in the Bear Cave of Ponte di Nava on wooden residues in the entrance hall.


The Coprinus domesticus is a fungus that outside, like the other species of the same genus, has carpophores that born, grow, wither and droop in 24 hours.


In the Bossea Cave, the author observed carpophores of this species that growed during a whole week. This fungi, that are humble outside, are exalted in the hypogean environment.

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