Sunday 12 February 2012: Sex and the single gill
Split gill is what it's actually called and Schizophyllum commune is the scientific name of this not-too-common fungus that in recent years has made a habit of erupting thus from tears and punctures in plastic-wrapped silage bales, the only location in which I have ever found it. Otherwise it grows on any kind of wood or organic substance.
So ubiquitous, split gill exists on every continent save Antarctica although, since it's said to have been found growing on old whale bones, it could be there as well. What's more, it can even infest the respiratory tract of immune-compromised people (imagine having this emerging from your nose.)
These leathery fungal rosettes can dry out and rehydrate many times, an economical feature for a fruiting body as it can produce spores over a long period. What's more, it's completely interfertile so that specimens from anywhere in the world can mate with any other, just like human beings. This isn't always the case in nature.
Split gill been intensely studied and genome-sequenced. One of the findings is that it possesses 28,000 distinct sexes. Now, I'd like to be able to understand this but I don't - the genetics is beyond me. I can only recommend you read this excellent explanation.
I just thought I'd steal a march on Valentine's day.