What is the Difference between Spores and Liquid Culture?

difference between mushroom spores and liquid culture
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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between mushroom spores and liquid culture? It can be a bit confusing for those new to studying mushrooms. However, understanding the differences is essential for any mushroom enthusiast. This article will dive into what makes these two mushroom cultivation methods unique.

Mushroom spores are tiny reproductive cells that contain blueprints for a specific type of mushroom species. Spores are sometimes considered like plant seeds since they germinate and eventually produce numerous mushrooms. On the other hand, liquid culture is a more specialized method of cultivating mushrooms that have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Understanding how these methods work and their advantages and disadvantages will help budding mycologists decide what is right. Read on to learn about the differences between mushroom spores and liquid culture!

What are Mushroom Spores?

Mushroom spores are the reproductive cells of mushrooms, released from mature fruiting bodies. They come in various colors and sizes and can be found on the ground or within mushroom caps. Spores are incredibly small – usually invisible to the naked eye – and must be handled with care since they’re fragile.

psilocybin mushroom spore syringe
Mushroom spore syringes

Uses of Mushroom Spores

Mushroom spores can be used for several purposes, such as:

  • Microscopy research
  • Taxonomical identification of mushroom species
  • Hobbyist collection
  • Making forms of art such as wall hangings or stickers
  • Mushroom Cultivation

What is Mushroom Liquid Culture?

Liquid culture, also known as LC for short, comprises living mushroom mycelium and a nutrient broth that keeps the mycelium healthy and growing. Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus. Although mycelium breathes oxygen, it can respirate oxygen from the liquid to continue living.

What is the Difference between Spores and Liquid Culture?
Golden Teacher Liquid Culture Syringe

Liquid Culture is used for:

Uses of Mushroom Liquid Culture

  • Mushroom Cultivation
  • Microscopy research to observe how mycelium behaves under certain conditions
  • Identification of any infections spores or mycelium may have.

In addition, liquid culture gives you more control over your mushroom growth since you know precisely how much mycelium is added to each jar. This means that it’s easier to get consistent results when growing mushrooms using this method compared to using mushroom spores. One of the best strains to start with is Golden Teacher Liquid Culture Syringe

Differences Between Mushroom Spores and Mushroom Liquid Culture

Mushroom Spores contain the genetic material of a mushroom. Within a single spore lies all the genetic possibilities that could exist for the specific mushroom species. Although that is true, the mushroom spore will almost always exhibit the genetic traits of the parent mushroom.

When used for mushroom cultivation, mushroom spores must first germinate to form mushroom mycelium, which eventually forms mushrooms. It can take up to fourteen days for mushroom spore germination to begin. Mushroom spores are often much more affordable than liquid culture because of their basic form.

Liquid cultures can be very expensive compared to mushroom spores, depending on the quality. However, mushroom Liquid Culture is already alive. Therefore, it requires no extra germination time compared to the time it takes for spores to germinate.

Liquid culture can also have varying qualities, from germinated spores to more advanced isolated genetic cultures. A liquid mushroom culture with desirable genetic traits isolated by a mycologist is the most valuable type of liquid culture. This is because the isolation of desirable mushroom genetics such as taste, yield, or potency has already been done for you. Unfortunately, it can take more than a year for a mycologist to isolate desirable genetic traits.

Types Of Mushroom Spores

Mushrooms are classified as being part of the Kingdom of Fungi. Under the Kingdom of Fungi, various genera and mushroom species exist. This makes up the different types of mushroom spores that are available for sale commercially.

Common types of mushroom spores include

  • Spores from Edible and Gourmet Mushrooms
  • Psilocybin mushroom spores

Mushroom spores from Edible mushrooms can be grown at home by anyone. Psilocybin mushroom spores cannot be used for mushroom cultivation unless it is legal to do so in your current location. In addition, in certain states, it may be illegal to possess psilocybin mushroom spores. Please read our article are psilocybin mushroom spores legal for more information about psilocybin spore legality.

Types Of Liquid Culture

Liquid cultures are a bit different than mushroom spores because they contain the live mycelium of a specific mushroom species. The broth of the liquid culture also plays a role in the health of the living mushroom mycelium, and there are different types of broth.

Common Types of Liquid Culture

Common types of liquid cultures are different recipes of nutrient broth. Another type of liquid culture has to do with the species of mushroom mycelium growing in the nutrient broth. There are potentially hundreds of types of liquid culture, but some of the most common include:

  • Extra light malt extract liquid culture
  • Potato dextrose liquid culture
  • Edible mushroom liquid cultures
  • Psilocybin mushroom liquid cultures

Spore syringes vs. Liquid Culture

When it comes to cultivating mushrooms, spore syringes and liquid culture are two popular methods. However, each method has unique pros and cons that may make one more appealing than the other, depending on the situation.

Pros and Cons of Mushroom Spores

Mushroom spores, in the form of a spore syringe or spore print, have been sold online for nearly five decades. It is the original way invented to share or sell mushroom genetics. Spores are time-tested and still the best option to acquire new mushroom specimens for cultivation or scientific research.


One of the key advantages of using mushroom spores is that they are relatively inexpensive compared to other methods. You only need basic supplies like a spore syringe, petri dishes, and agar. This makes them an attractive option for those on a tight budget who want to try mushroom cultivation without investing too much money upfront. Additionally, spores are readily available from many online retailers and can usually be shipped directly to your door.


On the other hand, there are some drawbacks to using mushroom spores as well. For example, it can take several weeks or even months to see any visible growth after introducing the spores into your substrate. Furthermore, since they are living organisms, they can be vulnerable to contamination if not handled properly. As such, beginner mushroom cultivators may find liquid culture easier to work with since it eliminates many of these risks while still providing good results in a shorter amount of time.

Overall, while there are some advantages to using mushroom spores for cultivation, they also come with certain risks that must be considered when deciding which method is best for you. Therefore, weighing your options carefully to choose a suitable method for your needs and experience is essential.

Pros And Cons of Liquid Culture

When cultivating mushrooms, one of the critical decisions is whether to use mushroom spores or liquid culture. The pros and cons of each method need to be considered before making a decision.


The main advantage of using liquid culture is that it can significantly increase the cultivation speed. Since you are using pre-existing mycelium, there is no waiting for the spores to germinate and for the mycelium to grow. Instead, you can simply introduce your substrate into the liquid culture and wait for it to colonize with mycelium. This means you can have a crop ready in just a few days or weeks, depending on what type of mushroom you are cultivating.

Another benefit of liquid culture is that it requires fewer resources than spores. For example, you don’t need much space or an incubator since you only need an accessible container with a lid, some sterilized water, and your substrate material. This makes liquid culture ideal for people who want to cultivate mushrooms but may not have access to all the necessary equipment or space needed for spore cultivation.


However, there are some drawbacks associated with liquid cultures as well.

Firstly, LC costs more than spores due to their higher purity levels and greater complexity in production methods.

Secondly, since you’re dealing with live mycelium from a lab source, there’s more room for contamination if sterile procedures aren’t followed correctly during setup and maintenance.

Finally, because they come from labs rather than nature, wild strains won’t be available, so your selection will only be limited to those cultivated by laboratories.

In summary, both spore and liquid cultures have pros and cons, which should be carefully weighed against each other when deciding which one suits your needs best. For example, liquid cultures offer faster results but require a more initial investment. At the same time, spores provide greater choice but require additional time and resources for successful cultivation.

Obtaining Mushroom Spores

The first way of getting spores is through natural means, such as foraging for wild mushrooms. This can be a great option if you want to grow specific species that may otherwise be unavailable. Foraging also allows you access to fresh, organic material that hasn’t been exposed to pesticides or other contaminants. The downside is that finding the exact species you’re looking for can be challenging, and there’s always the risk of accidentally harvesting poisonous mushrooms.

Another way to get mushroom spores is by purchasing them from commercial suppliers online or at select stores. This can be a great option if you know what species you want and don’t mind waiting for delivery time. You’ll also have access to different varieties than what could be found naturally in your area. However, this method will cost you more money than other options, and it may take some trial and error before finding the right supplier with quality products.

Obtaining Liquid Culture

The first way to obtain Mushroom Liquid Culture is by purchasing a culture syringe from an online vendor. There are many vendors, and not all provide top-quality liquid cultures. Be sure to research and read reviews real customers post on third-party websites (like Trustpilot) about any vendor. Remember that LC is more prone to contamination than spores. Therefore, purchasing from an ill-experienced vendor that likely doesn’t have the proper equipment is not advised.

The second way to obtain liquid culture is to make it yourself from spores. This is done by inoculating a nutrient broth that has been sterilized under a HEPA filter flow hood.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Shelf Life Of Mushroom Spore Syringes And Liquid Culture Syringes?

Mushroom Spore syringes have a shelf life of one year after the date of manufacture. After one year, the mushroom spores will not germinate and become inert.

Liquid Culture syringes have a shelf life of 3 months after the date of manufacture. The mushroom mycelium may still be alive longer than three months. Still, it will become nutrition starved and stressed, so the mycelium will not thrive in a substrate. Additionally, the mycelium may also not produce any mushrooms due to senescence. Senescence occurs when the mycelium becomes old.

How Much Do Mushroom Spores And Liquid Culture Cost?

Mushroom spores are significantly less expensive than liquid culture. The only time mushroom spores are cheaper than liquid culture is if the culture is not isolated and old. The vendor wants to sell it fast, or it is from an unprofessional source that you can’t trust to provide a quality sample.

Mushroom spore syringes do not require any advanced techniques or broth. It is just a medical syringe filled with an aqueous solution and spores. Liquid culture, however, requires many more steps to make and maintain and a nutrient broth that becomes expensive to make in bulk. Liquid culture also requires refrigeration, so the production cost is significantly higher for the vendor than spores, which is why the retail price to consumers is much higher than spores.

Another factor that affects the cost of mushroom spores and liquid cultures is the amount you purchase. If you buy a larger quantity at once, you may be able to get a discount. But this isn’t always the case – some vendors may offer discounts only for certain strains or quantities.

Are Mushroom Spores And Liquid Culture Safe To Use?

Generally speaking, mushroom spores and liquid cultures are safe to handle and use as long as all safety precautions are followed. It’s essential to wear gloves when handling these items and store them in a dry, cool place.

Regarding the actual growth process of mushrooms, there can be some potential hazards associated with their growth environment. For example, with mushroom spores, certain environmental conditions need to be met for them to grow correctly – such as temperature, humidity, light, and air circulation levels – so that you don’t end up with contaminated or moldy mushrooms. There is also the risk of contamination from improper sterilization techniques or inadequate lab equipment for liquid cultures.

So while both mushroom spores and liquid cultures can be used safely if handled correctly and with caution, it’s essential to understand the risks associated with each method before deciding which one is right for your project. Knowing this information will help ensure you have a successful experience when growing mushrooms!

Are There Any Special Storage Requirements For Mushroom Spores And Liquid Culture?

Mushroom Spore syringes must be kept at a minimum in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. They may be stored in a drawer or shoebox.

Mushroom Spore prints must be kept in a cool, dry place. However, spore prints come in a foil wrapper, so it is okay to store the spore prints inside the pages of a book for safekeeping.

Liquid culture must be refrigerated to slow the growth of the mycelium and extend its shelf life.


In conclusion, it’s essential to understand the differences between mushroom spores and liquid culture. They both have their own shelf life, cost, and safety requirements.

Liquid culture might be the best option if you’re looking for an easy way to grow mushrooms. It’s much quicker and easier than spores and requires no special storage conditions. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more economical solution or want to produce larger quantities of mushrooms over a more extended period, then using spores might be the better choice.

Whichever method you choose, take all the necessary steps to ensure your safety and get the most out of your scientific research or mushroom-growing experience. With some research and an understanding of the differences between mushroom spores and liquid culture, you’ll reap all the benefits these two products offer!