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Saccobolus - squash of entire apothecium with all stages of ascus development

This dung loving (coprophilous) fungus is common and easily grown.   Incubate some sheep or horse dung from a nearby pasture on a sheet or two of wet filter paper placed on the inside of the lid of a plastic box.   Use the the bottom of the box as a cover and  incubate the container on the bench at ambient temperature.  All kinds of exciting things will happen over the next few weeks.  Pilobolus (Zygomycota) is fast so will come up in a day ot two; also perhaps other fast growing relatives in the Mucorales.   Saccobolus and its cousin Ascobolus (Ascomycota) come up a bit later and produce tiny fruitbodies (apothecia) of the Discomycetes over the surface of the dung.    Under a dissecrting scope, you can pick them off with a needle and mount them on a slide in water for microscopic attention.   Now you know why you put the dung on the lid!    These particular genera have ascospores that are nicely pigmented so it is pretty easy to make a photogenic squash.  

The 8 ascospores in Saccobolus stick together and are fired off violently as a package.   The compactness of the missile and the extra weight allows the spores to be discharged a much further distance than shooting off solitary spores or shot gunning the spores in many directions at once.

Students:  discuss the pros and cons of shooting off the spores in one lump.