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fruiting body[′früd·iŋ ‚bäd·ē]
the receptacle of sporebearing organs found in most ascomycetous and basidiomycetous fungi. The fruiting body is formed by the interweaving of the hyphae of the mycelium and usually constitutes a visible part of the fungus. Only in truffles and a few other fungi is the entire body, including the fruiting body, hidden in the soil. The shape, size, consistency, and color of fruiting bodies vary widely and are considered as morphological characteristics in the taxonomy of fungi.
The following three types of fruiting bodies are distinguished in Ascomycetes: the cleistothecium, the perithecium, and the apothecium. The cleistothecia are rounded and closed and have a peridium (outer envelope). There are no special openings, and the asci develop the fruiting body either randomly or in bundles. The spores, or ascospores, are released from the fruiting body after the decay (in Plectascales) or rupture (in Erysiphaceae) of the peridium. Perithecia, which are pitcher-shaped, oval, or spherical, have a narrow opening at the top. Apothecia are saucer-shaped or cup-shaped. Less frequently they resemble little cushions or caps on a stalk (for example, in morels). The asci are distributed on the upper side of the apothecia in the form of a hymenium.
In many Ascomycetes the fruiting bodies are immersed in a thick matting of hyphae, known as the stroma, which varies in shape, size, and color. In Basidiomycetes, the fruiting bodies may be laminate, procumbent on the substrate (resupinate forms), hoof-shaped (agarics), club-shaped, branching (Clavaria), umbrella-shaped, in the form of caps on a stalk (Hymeno-mycetes), spherical, or pear-shaped (puffballs).
In certain other fungi, one distinguishes gymnocarpous fruiting bodies, which have an open hymenium; hemiangiocarpous fruiting bodies, which are semiclosed; and angiocarpous fruiting bodies, which are completely closed. Spores, or basidiospores, develop in definite places on the surface of the fruiting body (for example, the laminae of Russula and Lactarius deliciosus; in the tubules of cepes) or within the fruiting body (for example, in puffballs).
Some fungi have no fruiting bodies. These include lower fungi (Phycomycetes), some Ascomycetes (such as yeasts), some Basidiomycetes (Ustilaginales, Uredinales), and all Fungi Imperfecti. Sometimes fruiting bodies are incorrectly called pycnidia, which are actually the spore carriers of Sphaeropsidales of the order Fungi Imperfecti.
M. A. LITVINOV