Basic Mycology Terms

Below is a list of Basic Mycology Terms that mushroom cultivators should take the time to learn and understand.

If you’re looking for acronyms & abbreviations click here.

Agar –

A gelatin-like product extracted from red seaweed. Used to solidify culture media in Petri dishes and culture slants. 

Autoclave –

An apparatus used for sterilizing objects. See Pressure Cooker.

Casing Layer –

A layer of non-nutritious material (organic or inorganic) that is placed on top of mycelium to maintain moisture and initiate the fruiting process. An example of a casing layer recipe is a 50/50 mix of peat moss and vermiculite that is hydrated to field capacity. 

Contamination – 

Anything unwanted in your substrate or culture media. 

Culture Cleaning –

The process of extracting clean mycelium samples from contaminated cultures and transferring to clean media. This procedure is performed in an attempt to rescue the culture from contamination. 

Culture Slant – 

A culture produced on a slanted surface of solidified culture media in a test tube. The slanted surface provides a greater surface area within the test tube. 

Dish Culture – 

A culture produced on media in a petri dish. Also known as a Petri Dish Culture. 

Filter Patch Bag – 

An autoclavable bag fitted with a filter patch that allows for clean gas exchange. These bags are used for producing grain spawn, sawdust spawn, plug spawn, and/or fruiting blocks. 

Fruitbody – 

A fungal organ that produces spores. They are often a mushroom or toadstool. Also known as a fruiting body. 

Fruiting Block –

Fully colonized supplemented sawdust inside an autoclavable bag that is to be prepared to initiate the fruiting process. 

Gas Exchange- 

The exchange of respiratory gases. Fungi breathe oxygen and release carbon dioxide. 

Grain Spawn-

Grains that have been colonized by mycelium and are intended to be broken up and added to another substrate. 


The individual cells of fungi. Tiny thread-like filaments that make up the mycelial network. Each filament is a channel that can transfer water, nutrients, and information. 


Introducing mycelium to culture or spawn medium.

Laminar Flow- 

Airflow moving at the same speed in the same direction minimizing or eliminating turbulent air. This airflow is produced through HEPA filtration to generate a sterile stream of air to protect sterile cultures and media from contamination. 

Liquid Culture- 

Fragmented mycelium suspended in a liquid medium. 

Malt Extract Agar- 

A medium used for fungal cultures in petri dishes and test tube slants. The malt extract is typically barley extract and is mixed with agar. Agar is a red seaweed extract that has characteristics like gelatin. When mixed with water, sterilized, and then cooled it solidifies and is then suitable for growing mycelium on its surface. 

Multi-Spore Inoculation-

When spores are used to inoculate culture or spawn media rather than mycelium. 

Mushroom Culture- 

Capturing and preserving the genetics of an isolated strain. This process can be done by tissue transfers from a wild mushroom or through strain selection after germinating spores on culture media in a petri dish. 


The vegetative part of the fungus that is composed of a vast network of hyphae. 


The study of fungi.


A process in which bulk substrates are submerged in water and heated to a temperature range of 140 – 160 ° F. This process is to weaken competitor organisms and give mushroom mycelium the opportunity to flourish. 

Petri Dish-

A transparent, circular, and shallow dish that is used for the culture of microorganisms.

pH Scale-

A scale that is used to determine how acidic or basic a water-based solution is.

Potato Dextrose Agar-

A culture medium that uses potato dextrose as a food source and agar as a solidifying agent. Once sterilized and cooled it becomes suitable to grow mycelium on its surface. Potato Dextrose Agar is popular with cultivators that grow secondary decomposers such as white buttons or portobello. 

Pressure Cooker-

An airtight pot that uses pressurized steam to sterilize culture or spawn media. 


Also called pinning. When the mushroom is at its beginning stage of the growth cycle. 

Pure Culture Strain-

Mushroom strains that are isolated from multispore germination rather than cloning a wild mushroom.

Sawdust Spawn-

When mycelium is grown on supplemented sawdust, typically in an autoclavable bag with filter patch. Sawdust spawn blocks can also be used as fruiting blocks. 


A microscopic, typically one-celled, reproductive unit of a fungus. Mushroom seeds


To make objects or materials free of any living organisms.


A genetic variation of a fungal species. 

Wild Clone- 

A culture produced by extracting and transferring tissue samples from a wild mushroom to sterile culture media. 

This list of basic mycology terms will be reviewed and updated regularly. If you don’t see what you’re looking for then let us know.

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