Systems of Biomineralization in the Fungi

  • Kenneth D. Whitney


Crystals of Ca-oxalate are produced on vegetative or reproductive structures by members of each non-flagellate fungal class — the Ascomycetes, Basidiomycetes, and Zygomycetes. These crystals originate within the hyphal wall, distorting the outer wall layers during subsequent crystal growth. Crystals commonly occur on the vegetative mycelium of leaf and wood-rotting Basidiomycetes, both on field-collected and on cultured material. In culture, crystals are typically produced only on the aerial mycelium, not on the substrate mycelium. This suggests that calcium is translocated from the substrate mycelium via the fungal protoplast to the aerial mycelium, where it is then precipitated with oxalic acid. Mucoralean Zygomycetes also produce mineralized deposits on their aerial sporangia and sporangiophores, again suggesting that calcium is transported from the substrate and immobilized on aerial portions of the fungal thallus. Further, in the zygomycete Gilbertella persicaria, the reduction of calcium levels by Ca-oxalate crystallization coincides with an increased rate of mycelial growth. Thus, relatively high levels of calcium in the media appear to inhibit the growth of Gilbertella persicaria. The precipitation of Ca-oxalate may serve as a way for fungi to regulate or reduce the calcium ion concentration in their microenvironment.


Oxalic Acid Calcium Oxalate Aerial Mycelium Aerial Hypha Calcium Oxalate Crystal 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth D. Whitney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA

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