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Word Count: 238
Basidiomycetes are called the club fungi because they produce structures that look like clubs There are about 25000 species of basidiomycota including mushrooms puffballs and shelf fungi There are several species of mushrooms that are a delicacy but some species are deadly Basidiomycetes can also be dangerous to plants They produce something called rusts and smuts which cause billions of dollars worth of damage to grain crops annually Some species enter symbiotic relationships with plants Basidiomycetes typically reproduce sexually Mushrooms are reproductive structures Dense aggregation of hyphae that emerge under proper conditions come from underground mycelium On the undersides of mushrooms are leaflike gills that produce specialized club-shaped diploid cells called basidia Basidia make haploid reproductive basidiospores by meiosis The gills of the mushrooms release billions of basidiospores and are dispersed by wind and water The basidiospores fall on fertile ground and germinate to form haploid hyphae of two different mating types When the two types meet some of the cells fuse and produce the underground mycelium The hyphae grow outward from the original spore in a circular pattern as the older hyphae in the center die The body periodically sends up many mushrooms which emerge in a ring-like pattern called a fairy ring The diameter of the fairy ring can reveal the approximate age of the fungus Some fairy rings are estimated to be 700 years old One fairy ring in Michigan covers 38 acres and is over 1500 years old
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