Rights: The University of Waikato Published 14 April 2009 Download

How do you grow fungi in the lab? How do you make sure that you don’t grow all sorts of fungi when you wanted to only study one. Dr Peter Buchanan talks us through this important scientific procedure.


Fungi are quite a flexible, adaptable organism, and we can take a very tiny portion of a particular fungus and put it on a thin layer of a jelly-based medium called agar. This gives it food. Now, there are lots of other fungi likely to be occurring at the very same spot that we pick that piece off. And there are fungi in the air all the time. We don't want that, we want just the fungus that we are wanting to grow. So we do this work in an environment where we have filtered out of the air, all of the spores, all of the bacteria, all of the pollen grains, and the air we are working in is sterile. Therefore when we take the particular piece of fungus, put it on that jelly medium, we hope that we can grow just that fungus. And what we will see is the feeding stage of that fungus. It will use the food in that jelly to grow, and it will form very, very fine threads, and it will grow out from the actual piece that we put on in all directions and form a circular colony with those hyphal threads getting the food from the jelly.