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Coprinellus micaceus
A dense cluster of Coprinellus micaceus, a cosmopolitan saprobe, here growing on an underground stump of a willow tree (<i>location Lower Saxony</i>). The basidiomycete is a model organism to study cell division and meiosis. The young caps are coated with the name-giving glistening (<i>mica</i>) cells. The fruit bodies are edible, but show autolysis a few hours after collection.<br><font size="-2">Picture: R. G. Berger</font>

Why should we care about Basidiomycetes anyway?

Among the estimated roughly 20,000 mushroom forming species (Ainsworth and Bisby´s Dictionary of the Fungi, ed. 9; 2001) are many economically important agricultural species (mainly from the class Agaricomycetes, subphylum Agaricomycotina). Solely in China, 950 different members are known to be edible and consumed as a food, of which about 50 are commercially cultivated (Rühl and Kües 2007). Worldwide, Agaricus bisporus (champignon, white button mushroom) is the most cultivated species followed by Lentinula edodes and Pleurotus spp. . Plant pathogens, such as rusts (members of the Pucciniomycotina) and smuts (members of the Ustilaginomycotina), and some opportunistic human pathogens (from the order Filobasidiales within the subphylum Agaricomycotina) are Basidiomycetes as well.