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Phycomyces is a genus of fungi in the Zygomycota phylum. They produce very large, globular sporangia at the apex of unbranched, bluish or metallic sporangiophores. There are two sexes in Phycomyces, (+) and (-), with no morphological difference. The sporangiophores are very sensitive to different environmental signals including light, gravity, wind, chemicals and adjacent objects. They exhibit phototropic growth, and most Phycomyces research has focused on sporangiophore photobiology, such as phototropism and photomecism ('light growth response'). Metabolic, developmental, and photoresponse mutants have been isolated, some of which have been genetically mapped. Phycomyces also exhibits an avoidance response, in which the growing sporangiophore avoids solid objects in its path, bending away from them and then continuing to grow upward again. This is believed to result from an unidentified "avoidance gas" that is emitted by the growing zone of the sporangiophore.
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Note: If you wish to subculture onto your own plate we recommend Potato Dextrose Agar as the best medium for displaying zygosporangia on your conjugation plate. Phycomyces will grow on Malt Extract Agar but Potato Dextrose Agar provides the best nutrients for zygosporangia development.
Microbiology Safety Considerations - This guide for Australian schools is made available through the courtesy of the author, S K Hoffmann.
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Bacterial and Fungi Cultures Note - (new window, 0.1M, pdf format)