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(Gasteromycetales), a group of orders of fungi of the class Basidiomycetes. Gasteromycetes are characterized by closed fruiting bodies, inside which are formed numerous spores, which are freed by rupture or total destruction of the membrane of the fruiting body.
In the majority of Gasteromycetes the fruiting body is tuberoid. In some it is stellate or has the form of small calathides with small bodies (peridioles), or it may be in the form of small peduncles with a cap or head. The fruiting body consists of a sheath, the peridium, and internal tissue, the gleba, in which are found cavities containing basidia, which separate the spores. The layers of tissue between the cavities are called trama. There are approximately 1,000 species, in five orders (eight to 15 families). Almost all Gasteromycetes are soil-surface saprophytes, and only a few are found on rotting timber. Among the Gasteromycetes are puffballs (young ones are edible), earth stars (Geaster), the family Nidulariaceae, and the genus Phallus.