Illuminating the Differences Between Spore Prints, Spore Syringes, and Spore Swabs

Various Spore Storage Formats: Spore Prints, Spore Syringes, and Spore Swabs

Mushroom spores carry the genetic information of mushrooms, but they are incredibly small, measuring between 10 and 40 microns. Spores are therefore invisible to the naked eye. When viewing spores under a microscope, spores typically have brown or purple colors, although albino strains have mostly clear spores.

Collecting spores is made easy by obtaining a spore print. This involves removing the mushroom cap from the stem once the veil opens up. Placing the cap gills-down over a sterile piece of foil or paper in a controlled environment for approximately 24 hours allows the spores to be deposited on the surface. Afterward, the mushroom cap is removed, and the resulting spore print is carefully transferred into a sterile sleeve.

A popular method of storing spores is to add them to sterile water and draw the water up into a syringe. Syringes typically contain thousands of spores. Although spore prints generally contain many more spores than syringes (often numbering in the millions!), many people prefer working with spore syringes under the microscope due to the convenience of the spores already being suspended in water.

In some cases, certain mushroom strains do not naturally release spores. When this happens, spores can be collected by gently running a swab through the mushroom’s gills, scooping the spores up at the tip of the swab.

Regardless of the method chosen, each of these formats provides excellent material for your microscopy endeavors.

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