Sunday 13th October is the first ever UK Fungus day! There are lots of events happening all over the country to raise the profile of fungi and fungal research. To celebrate I’ve put together a linkfest of recent articles all about the fungi.
Firstly, if you dont know the difference between a fungus and a mushroom it is worth starting with Kirsty Jackson’s post on fungi on this blog. And (just in case you missed it) her post on today’s cover mushroom fly agaric.
Many fungi form mutually beneficial symbioses with other organisms. Jennifer Frazer describes the hidden beauty of the horse dung fungus, a mycorrhizal fungus that forms symbioses with many tree species. Mycorrhizal fungi aid plants in the uptake of nutrients from the soil but they can also play a role in plant-to-plant communication in defence against pests.
Lichens are partnerships between a fungus and a photobiont (either algae or cyanobacteria). To have a closer look at lichens under the electron microscope check out “Something useful from something arcane” and “Questions about lichens: Form? Function? Biology?” on the Botany without Borders blog. And not forgetting Kirsty Jackson’s Lichen article on this blog.
Fungi can also have less favourable interactions with other organisms. See Malcolm Campbell’s article on Rust fungus, a pathogen of important crop species including wheat. A newly discovered fungus causing disease in Fire Salamanders (by John Platt) has led to a 96% decline in this amphibian’s population in the Netherlands. In another article John also discusses a rare sighting of the smutty fungus infecting the naked ladies crocus.
Fungi can also infect insects including ants and modify their behaviour so for some fantastic (and a bit horrible) pictures of so called “zombie ants” check out this article by Matt Simon.
A team of scientists set up a fungal and bacterial pairing that produced isobutanol from dried corn husks in the lab. This discovery has the potential to be developed into a method for biofuel production. Read all about it in Erin Brodwin’s “Bacteria and Fungi Together: A Biofuel Dream Team?”
And finally Michaeleen Doucleff covers the case of a man who was accidently brewing beer in his own gut.