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Claviceps purpurea, commonly known as Ergot, lives most of its life as an ndophyte inside the cells of graminaceous plants, particularly rye. This fungus infects rye through the stigma of its flower and produces a mycelial mat that replaces the plant’s ovarian tissues. This mycelial mat develops into conspicuous brownish-black sclerotia that can be found growing from the inflorescence of the plants. C. purpurea induces hypertrophy and hyperplasia in the plant cells (parasitic behavior), resulting in the relatively large sclerotia. Sclerotia are over-wintering structures that germinate in spring to form small, mushroom-like stromata that produce ascospores in perithecia. These spores are released and infect new plants.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Alan Rockefeller, Tom Volk, Matthew Foltz

Source: Mushroom Observer

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