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OfflineRoostre
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Azurescens, plant rhizomes, and the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria * 3
    #27270941 - 03/26/21 10:57 PM (1 month, 9 days ago)

Hi all,

Lurker here for the last several months- my obsession with this hobby started last season, hunting cyanescens in the PNW, which was a great time- and fairly new poster. If this topic doesn’t belong in Advanced Mycology feel free to move it- I am not an advanced mycologist after all- but I read the guidelines thread and based on other threads here it seems to be the best fit. Pls correct if not.

Also, apologies in advance for a long winded post- I’ve got the noob enthusiasm and pandemic time on my hands so I’ve fallen deep into the shroomhole and can’t get up.

Anyway:

From reading a number of threads here and on related forums, the general consensus I’ve gathered about psilocybe azurescens is that fruiting is dependent on an adequate amount of nitrogen being present in the substrate and/or casing layer- wood chips alone, even when partially decomposed (i.e., less rich in simple carbohydrates) generally have too high of a carbon:nitrogen ratio to produce fruits and it doesn’t seem many have had success fruiting off the same sort of substrate as is possible with ps. cyanescens, etc, especially not indoors. As I understand it, this fixed nitrogen that seems to be necessary for fruiting is produced by actinobacteria (i.e., actinomycetes) that are able to fix gaseous nitrogen into a biologically reactive form that can be used by other organisms, especially to produce necessary enzymes to grow and consume other nutrient sources.

I’m not sure it’s been established exactly why these conditions are necessary- my guess would be that it has something to do with the volume of enzyme production that producing fruits requires- or why exactly azurescens in particular have this requirement, whereas other woodloving psilocybes seem less particular (although I have some theories on this- more on that later), but these questions are less central to this post.

What I’m interested in, and haven’t seen much if any discussion about yet, is what role plant rhizomes, or plants with rhizomatic root systems etc, may potentially play in this process in nature, and if this in part explains why azurescens only appear to grow in the wild from the roots of dune grasses- particularly Ammophila arenaria (European beach grass).

There are a few reasons I’m drawn to this question:

1) In my own hunting for cyanescens I’ve found that they fruit very commonly in the presence of plants, and often invasive species/weeds that notoriously spread through rhizomes. (This also seems to be the case with, for example, ps. ovoideocystidiata, which are often found feeding from decaying Japanese knotweed- an infamously invasive species that can spread through rhizomes up to forty feet.) My first significant cyan find (pics at the bottom) was around the base of a sword fern, with a large number of fruits densely clumped together appearing to grow straight from the fern’s root system. I haven’t found this in any other patch, but throughout this whole area there were mushrooms at the base of a network of ferns in an area maybe 20 x 50 feet, mulched with shredded alder. This got me wondering if something about the ferns’ roots played a part in successful wild fruiting.

2) In trying to understand what exactly about dune grass could be so conducive to mushroom growth, I learned that that species- also very much infamous for its aggressive, invasive growth- also benefits from a rhizomatic root system, spreading rapidly and densely through soil that is otherwise very nutrient-poor. (It is mostly sand after all.)

3) Having read that rhizomes typically play host to a high density of nitrogen-fixing bacteria- part of what makes them so helpful for plant growth, so much so that many of these plants can regrow just from one chunk of rhizome- I did some further digging and found this paper, unrelated to mushroom cultivation, which finds A. arenaria to have an especially high concentration of actinobacteria in its rhizomes- part of what helps it survive in otherwise barren sandy soil, often to a degree unmatched by its native competitors: https://academic.oup.com/femsec/article/49/3/469/585355

4) I've also read on here that one of the reasons alder is such a great food source for woodlovers is that it has a slightly higher level of nitrogen (0.4% vs 0.2% or less in other woods I believe) as a result of a similar relationship with actinobacteria.

This combination of findings has led me to believe that the tendency for azurescens to only produce fruit in substrates more nitrogen-rich than those required for other woodlovers is an evolutionary characteristic derived from their seemingly symbiotic and almost mycorrhizal relationship with this particular grass. Indeed, while I’m not familiar enough with truly mycorrhizal species to make a direct comparison, it does seem that this type of exchange- mushroom mycelium consuming nitrogen produced within the roots/rhizomes, made with the help of actinobacteria, and potentially also exchanging other nutrients with the plant (carbon perhaps?) resembles those symbiotic relationships, even if it is not a necessary component for their growth. (Unless it is!)

If the theory about the origins of azurescens is true- I believe it was Stamets who said he thinks they may have begun as a variant of cyanescens that was transported down the Columbia River by loggers, and potentially deposited along the coast- this explanation would be consistent, as since at least the 1800s A. arenaria has been by far the most prevalent species to be found at the very edge of the coast, and its lignin-rich roots would be a natural substrate for a wood loving psilocybe of that family. And because there is so little else in terms of nutrients, especially the crucial sources of fixed nitrogen, it would make sense that the mushroom evolved in such a way that only those specimens which reproduced in the unusually (for the habitat) nitrogen-rich substrate of these grass roots would survive- thus encoding this adaptation to a degree that later generations would not readily reproduce without a similar environment.

I’m not sure what practical benefit this finding, if true, would yield, since it appears experienced cultivators of these species (thinking especially of waylitjim) have already managed to find more than suitable replacement sources of fixed nitrogen (and actinomycetes) in the substrate/casing layer by using natural or nutrient-enhanced soil. But from a purely theoretical standpoint, especially with how little we still really know about these species and their origins, I think it’s fun to look deeper into what exactly makes them tick and why.

This is all of course just spitballing, and noob spitballing at that, so please only take it as such. But I’m curious what those who have studied and know far more about this species and its relatives might think!

Thanks for reading- here is some shroom pr0n as compensation. I’ll start with the cyan find I mentioned earlier, along with a late-season azure (12/30 I believe, first proper chance to hunt down there- can’t wait for next year!)



They are right up in there.



The closer you look, the more appear...




This bb was perched regally atop a small raised bump out in the grass. One of my favorite finds.



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InvisibleRumblestrip
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Registered: 04/21/19
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Re: Azurescens, plant rhizomes, and the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria *DELETED* [Re: Roostre]
    #27271274 - 03/27/21 08:07 AM (1 month, 9 days ago)

Post deleted by Rumblestrip

Reason for deletion: Wasting my time.


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OnlineMacrolepiota
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Re: Azurescens, plant rhizomes, and the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria [Re: Rumblestrip]
    #27271971 - 03/27/21 04:53 PM (1 month, 8 days ago)

Beautiful azure pic you've got there. Ever since I saw pics from Anno's patch a long time ago, I was struck by their aesthetic. Recently I started working on starting my own patches, along with cyans and ovoids, so I hope I'll be able to take photos like that one day as well. :sun:

Anyway, I just wanted to say that planting clover on top of azure substrate could also be an interesting experiment. Don't know if this is common elsewhere, but here people sometimes plant clover on whole fields, due to their nitrogen fixating ability. The following year the soil is enriched with nitrogen which leads to greater yields with cultures which are planted afterwards.

I was thinking about planting wild strawberries on top of woodlover substrates, but I might try clover as well.


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LET YOUR LOVE SHINE


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InvisibleWrightii
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Registered: 05/15/20
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Re: Azurescens, plant rhizomes, and the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria [Re: Macrolepiota]
    #27272192 - 03/27/21 07:42 PM (1 month, 8 days ago)

Nice read!
It makes me wonder about some things. I have to say I'm no expert whatsoever and feel free to prove me wrong. Just some nice assuming and gossip. For example the following: Who/what it is Azuresence has the actual symbiotic relation with?
If it would be the actinobacteria -the nitrogen provider- wouldn’t we also expect to find the mushroom growing near other plants that have high numbers of actinobacteria in their root nodules? Or does Azuresence form a rhizomorph with the plant itself and is the presence of actinobacteria just a “secondary” relation to the fungus, as it provides the plant that provides the fungus. Is there even such a thing as symbiosis between fungi and bacteria in soils? There must be right? feels like it atleast.

Also; do you think pseudo-acacia (nitrogen fixating Fabaceae tree) wood chips would make a good/better spawn then? As you mention nitrogen richer trees seem favourable. I have these ones growing all around here so might be worth giving a try:ooo:
Quote:

Macrolepiota said:

Anyway, I just wanted to say that planting clover on top of azure substrate could also be an interesting experiment. Don't know if this is common elsewhere, but here people sometimes plant clover on whole fields, due to their nitrogen fixating ability. The following year the soil is enriched with nitrogen which leads to greater yields with cultures which are planted afterwards.





Indeed! Trying something "intercropping" like with nitrogen fixating vegetables (most beans for example) might also be nice :smile: getting that shade, humidity, beans ánd mushrooms omg. And maybe even a better understanding about this fungi and its relationships.

Cheers!


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The Official Hericium Thread


Edited by Wrightii (03/27/21 07:43 PM)


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Offlineobtuse
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Re: Azurescens, plant rhizomes, and the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria [Re: Wrightii]
    #27280859 - 04/24/21 11:41 PM (11 days, 9 hours ago)

Given that Psilocybe azurescens and Psilocybe subaeruginosa are very closely related and P. subaeruginosa  is able to fruit under artificial conditions, if done properly, I suspect there is no symbiosis. 

This has certainly been something I have considered in the past, but I no longer feel that this is the case.


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InvisibleJake McBaked
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Re: Azurescens, plant rhizomes, and the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria [Re: Roostre]
    #27282812 - 04/26/21 04:57 PM (9 days, 16 hours ago)

Quote:

Roostre said:

1) In my own hunting for cyanescens I’ve found that they fruit very commonly in the presence of plants, and often invasive species/weeds that notoriously spread through rhizomes. (This also seems to be the case with, for example, ps. ovoideocystidiata, which are often found feeding from decaying Japanese knotweed- an infamously invasive species that can spread through rhizomes up to forty feet.) My first significant cyan find (pics at the bottom) was around the base of a sword fern, with a large number of fruits densely clumped together appearing to grow straight from the fern’s root system. I haven’t found this in any other patch, but throughout this whole area there were mushrooms at the base of a network of ferns in an area maybe 20 x 50 feet, mulched with shredded alder. This got me wondering if something about the ferns’ roots played a part in successful wild fruiting.




I have always assumed the correlation of cyans/ovoids/azures I have found growing in close proximity to plants would be the result of microclimates created by brush: creating a humidity pocket and even directing rain into concentrated areas through the leaves/branches.

This write up is great, thank you for the post and subsequent discussion!


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