Friday, September 28, 2012

Fungal Word Friday


A tooth, in the fungal world, is a tapered structure bearing basidia on the fruiting body of some mushrooms, much the same way that gills do on others.
Teeth of Hericium americanum

Photo Cred: Me :-)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mood Lighting for Hypocrea jecorina

ResearchBlogging.orgJust picture the soft blue light glimmering off some well developed stroma, strong mycelial growth subtly reaching out with its probing filaments. Some sexual reproduction is going down today.

Now think of what it is like after that blue light so embodying of the twilight hour stays all the time, or never comes around at all. The light becomes harsh, showing off your conidiation, it is easy to see why stroma can't perform under such... revealing exposure. And while the velvet darkness can seem alluring, a constant darkness causes its own lack of enthusiasm, things may happen but the excitement oft isn't there, so it takes a while longer.

Hypocrea jecorina sporting
some sweet filamentous growth.

Or at least that is what a new study in PLOS One says regarding the sexual development of Hypocrea jecorina under a variety of light exposure growth regimes demonstrates.

Blue Light Acts as a Double-Edged Sword in Regulating Sexual Development of Hypocrea jecorina (Trichoderma reesei)

Light is important to the sexual development of many fungi. Take Neurospora crassa, it has a complex of photoreceptive proteins (the white-collar complex) that directly initiate and manage sexual reproduction. However; the equivalent complexes found in H. jecorina, the blue-light photoreceptors (BLR1 & BLR2), regulate blue-light-induced mycelial growth and cellulase gene expression and the photoadaption protein ENV1 regulates the mycelial growth and tones down the detection of light change, which helps promote sexual development by inhibiting asexual conidiation. Basically that means BLR 1&2 and ENV1 play mainly regulatory roles and are not necessarily essential for sexual reproduction.

To test whether visible light, and thus these photoreceptors, is required by the fungus for a sexually reproductive path, the researchers grew (on malt extract agar plates) H. jecorina under three separate light regimes; 24 hours of light a day, a 12 hour light/12 hours dark day, and a 24 hours of darkness day.

The monitoring revealed that even after 30 days, the strains grown under a full 24 hour light day showed no stroma growth. This means all that total illumination inhibited the sexual development of H. jecorina. Those growing with the balanced 12hr Light/ 12hr Dark days? They knew what was going on ;-). They had a solid mycelial growth with well developed stromata being observed in just 7-9 days. However, when we jump back over to the fungi grown under total darkness, we see stromata form, but they do so more slowly. Also the stroma of the 12L/12D strains showed surface growth of perithecia (A flask shaped fruiting body that contains the ascospores), while the perithecia developing in the stroma of the 24D samples were embedded deeper toward the interior.

These results demonstrated that different light variation greatly affected the sexual development of H. jecorina. While constant light completely inhibited Stroma formation, total darkness caused a slowdown of their growth as well. The second point explains why it has always been reported that light is required for stroma formation. Basically to induce proper sexual development Hypocrea jecorina  there must be light, but it needs to be shut off now and then. Maybe, get a dimmer swith installed and turn on some Marvin Gaye.

Awesome researchers:
Chia-Ling Chen, Hsiao-Che Kuo, Shu-Yu Tung, Paul Wei-Che Hsu, Chih-Li Wang, Christian Seibel, Monika Schmoll, Ruey-Shyang Chen, & Ting-Fang Wang (2012). Blue Light Acts as a Double-Edged Sword in Regulating Sexual Development of Hypocrea jecorina (Trichoderma reesei) PLOS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044969

Photo Cred:
US Department of Energy Office of Science via Wiki-Commons

Friday, September 21, 2012

Foreign Spore Germination: Scientific American

This spore germination is special to me so be sure to go read it.

The reason it is special is that I covered the exact same journal right here on this blog.

However it shows how much I need to work in order to turn my humble blog into something of real quality. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the Scientific American writer Jennifer Frazer's much more eloquent take on the same research:

Deadly and Delicious Amanitas Can No Longer Decompose

I have so far to go...

Fungal Word Friday


A method of conidial development in which a visible enlargement or swelling of a newly forming conidia is seen before it is delimited the growth of a septum.
Blastic Conidial Growth of Trichoderma harzianum

Photo Cred: US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Sorry I haven't posted in like a week now. I finally have found a recent Journal entry to write about but haven't gotten to it.. but don't worry I will. For now just enjoy some  reindeer eating shrooms:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fungal Word Friday


The outer protective layer that covers spore producing bodies.

The white "cup" at bottom
is the remainder of a peridium.

Photo cred: Wiki Commons contributor Archenzo

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Found Fungi: Mutinus caninus

So, I forgot to take lunch to work today and decided to go for a walk to pass the time. And what do you know, I found some stinkhorns! Even though they were mostly flaccid when I came across them, it wasn't hard to determine they were Mutinus caninus.
Flaccid Fungal Forest

Phallaceae and Acorn Caps

It's called a stinkhorn for a reason.
I especially love the last picture, you can really see those flies going to town on the spore slime.

How Some Frogs Fight Fungi: Bacterial Buddies

ResearchBlogging.orgAround the world we are seeing mass populations of frogs go into population decline. Heck, my very first actual blog post was about how a group of frogs in Southeast United States found a way to survive. But it isn’t alone.

When looking at frog populations in the tropics one can find enough data to support the basic fact: Chytridiomycosis appears to be a cool weather disease.  For one, lower temperature on a cold blooded frog leads to a potentially weaker immune system. And for another thing, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, the fungus responsible for a large portion of these infections, doesn’t grow as well in temperatures over 25C.  That means frogs living in higher altitudes are more likely to suffer die-offs than those living in the lowlands.  B. dendrobatidis does exist in the lowlands, mind you; it just doesn’t produce the dramatic results.

But, as I briefly touched on in my first post, bacteria also help in warding off the pathogen. A study in PLOS One looks to analyze the bacterium growing on the skin of some persistent members of the frog genus Atelopus.

Surviving Chytridiomycosis: Differential Anti-Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Activity in Bacterial Isolates from Thre Lowland Species of Atelopus

There are over thirty species of frog in this genus, with all but four facing sharp decline.  One of these remaining species, A. elegans, is standing strong even with B. dendrobatidis being well established in its population. What gives? This little guy should have met his mycelial maker!

A. elegans: I should be dead!
This study looks at the potential anti-fungal bacteria the species harbors, also comparing it to the microbiota of some closely related frogs that don’t appear to be infected with the pathogenic Chytrid. What they did was cultivate and isolate as many bacterial strains from roughly 80 specimens of three species of Atelopus: A. elegans, A. spurrelli, and A. limosus.  This resulted in 148 cultivated strains that were tested for anti-B. dendrobatidis activity.

The isolates of bacteria were streaked on plates which had been diffused with B. dendrobatidis to test for zones of inhibition as well as growth rates of the fungus throughout the dish. Along with each isolate a streak of E. coli was included as a control. E. coli is a bacterium which has been determined to have no inhibitive activity on B. dendrobatidis, and as such would act as a visual comparison of the active bacterial subjects.
After analyzing the growth plates, roughly 40% of the strains isolated from Atelopus elegans showed anti-fungal action.  In both A. spurrelli and A. limosus the percentage of active bacteria was much lower, 19% and 26% respectively.  In addition to the quantities of bacterial strains, this same correlation was viewable in quality of inhibition; two of the three most active strains being only found in A. elegans with the third also being found on A. spurrelli.

This seems to demonstrate that the only species of frog in the study which has tested positive for the pathogen employs a barrage of heavy hitting cutaneous bacteria to increase its resistance to chytridiomycosis.

While it acknowledges that laboratory conditions would differ from host the environment of the host frog’s skin; the research team believes the bacteria isolated in this study, specifically the two members of the Pseudomonas genus (P. tolaassii and P. aeruginosa) that showed strongest inhibitor action, could help combat the fungal pathogen in neotropical habitats as probiotic treatments.

Awesome Reasearchers:
Sandra V. Flechas, Carolina Sarmiento, Martha E. Cárdenas, Edgar M. Medina, Silvia Restrepo, & Adolfo Amézquita (2012). Surviving Chytridiomycosis: Differential Anti-Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis Activity in Bacterial Isolates from Three Lowland Species of Atelopus PLOS One DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044832

Photo Cred: Wiki Commons Contributor Phillip Weigell

Monday, September 10, 2012

Foreign Spore Germinations: io9 & MDC

Today I have found two separate but equally cool Fungal news articles that are done better than what I can do.

First is a piece by Esther Ingils-Arkell on who writes "Why are mushrooms more like humans than they are like plants."

In the article she gives a quick, fun read about the fact that mushrooms (and all fungi for that matter) are more closely related to humans (and all animals for that matter) than they are plants.

I found the second article already with its thallus spread throughout the internet; everywhere from Scienceblog to Science Daily to Daily Mail.  I think that I have found the appressorium of the story over at the Max Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine though so that is the source I am giving you.

Treatment with Fungi Makes a Modern Violin Sound Like a Stradivarius

This article is about a discussion by wood researcher Professor Francis W. M. R. Schwarze, reporting on his study to modify the wood used in violin making, enabling a modern violin to sound as good as a Stradivarius.

Basically in his research, he discovered two species of fungi, Physisporinus vitreus and Xylaria longipes, that decay wood in such a way that they leave the wood scaffold structure intact. After treating wood with the fungi, and then taking steps to kill it off, the group made violins that were tested in a blind study and deemed the equivalent of the most famous of brands.

Spanish II Stradivarius Violin
If an actual research article becomes available I will try to keep a look out and revisit the specifics of this one.

Photo cred: Wiki Commons contributor Gryffindor

Friday, September 7, 2012

Foreign Spore Germination: Scientific American

Man It seems like more and more I am finding cool Fungi related stories being covered by reputable organizations. Today I bring you a piece from Scientific American.

How Ballistic Cup Fungi Fire Their Spores (and look cool doing it)

The article is about Ascomycete spore formation and release. It is a very good read + it has some cool videos, go now.

Fungal Word Friday


A running hypha from which rhizoids and sporangiospores arise.

Stolon Hyphae of Bread Mold

Photo Cred:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pestalotiopsis Gets a Backbone

ResearchBlogging.orgThe genus Pestalotiopsis is home to some well known plant pathogens. While generally not causing severe disease, they are always willing and ready to take advantage of weakened or injured foliage. One species, Pestalotiopsis microspora, even has a well documented ability of digesting polyurethane.

However; catagorizing the species within this genus can be quite daunting, it has a confusing taxonomic history. For instance the spores of Pestalotiopsis looks remarkably like Seiridium abietinum, except that S. abietinum lacks a multi-apendaged end.

Top Pestlotiopsis, Bottom Seiridium

Now a new study published in Fungal Diversity, hoping to clear up some of the mess, has conducted a multi-loci genetic analysis on 40 isolates comprised of 28 strains from Pestalotiopsis.

A multi-locus backbone tree for Pestalotiopsis, with a polyphasic characterization of 14 new species

After isolating the samples the team studied both morphology and genetic sequence data, focusing on 10 gene regions generally utilized to help resolve cryptic Pestalotiopsis species. Unfortunately most of the regions served limited purpose due to an inability to outline species boundaries, as well as a low success in PCR amplification. However; β-tubulin, tef1, and ITS all demonstrated themselves as strong marker regions. And while they each proved to be a good source to identify differences among species, working with all three gave exceptional mapping capabilities.

And what happened when all this data was analysed?... 14 new species:

Pestalotiopsis asiatica, P. chinensis, P. chrysea, P. clavata, P. diversiseta, P. ellipsospora, P. inflexa, P. intermedia, P. linearis, P. rosea, P. saprophyta, P. umberspora, P. unicolor and P. verruculosa.

But don't let adding new species make you think they are adding to the confusion, in fact this research gives a solid, in their terminology, backbone tree for the 22 known pestalotiopsis species. Using their research will prove invaluable to further studies in this genus.

Awesome researchers:
Sajeewa S. N. Maharachchikumbura, Liang-Dong Guo, Lei Cai, Ekachai Chukeatirote, Wen Ping Wu, Xiang Sun, Pedro W. Crous, D. Jayarama Bhat, Eric H. C. McKenzie, & Ali H. Bahkali (2012). A multi-locus backbone tree for Pestalotiopsis, with a polyphasic characterization of 14 new species Fungal Diversity DOI: 10.1007/s13225-012-0198-1

Video Cred: The New Haven Register
Photo Cred:

Tuesday Treat: Infinity Burial Project

This video of Jae Rhim Lee's TED talk is all about using a fungus suit to help your body decompose after you hit the dirt.

For more details here is the weblink for The Infinity Burial Project:
The Infinity Burial Project