Tag Archives | Fungus

A type of dandruff fungus is found in deep sea vents, lobster guts, and Antarctic soil

Scanning Electron Microscope picture of freshly prepared human dandruff sample. By Horoporo via Wikimedia Commons

Scanning Electron Microscope picture of freshly prepared human dandruff sample. By Horoporo via Wikimedia Commons.

via Popular Science:

What do human scalps, deep sea vents, and Antarctic soil have in common? As it turns out, all of these places are home to one weird group of fungi. A study published today in the journal PLOS Pathogens found that fungi of the genus Malassezia are just about everywhere. And we do mean everywhere.

Scientists have known for quite a while that some species of Malassezia were associated with dandruff and other skin conditions like eczema, and they had long assumed that these fungi were specialized to live on skin. The fungus, which relies on a host to provide fatty acids, is incredibly difficult for scientists to cultivate, or grow in a lab, and it flew under the radar for years. Now the fungus has turned up in the guts of lobster larvae, hydrothermal vents, the roots of orchids and many other incredibly different places.

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Largest Living Organism is Not the Blue Whale

The largest living organism, once considered to be the blue whale, might not be what you expect. The discovery of a giant fungus in Oregon has claimed the prize.

W.J.Pilsak (Walter J. Pilsak, Waldsassen)

W.J.Pilsak (Walter J. Pilsak, Waldsassen)

via Scientific American:

The discovery of this giant Armillaria ostoyae in 1998 heralded a new record holder for the title of the world’s largest known organism, believed by most to be the 110-foot- (33.5-meter-) long, 200-ton blue whale. Based on its current growth rate, the fungus is estimated to be 2,400 years old but could be as ancient as 8,650 years, which would earn it a place among the oldest living organisms as well.

A team of forestry scientists discovered the giant after setting out to map the population of this pathogenic fungus in eastern Oregon. The team paired fungal samples in petri dishes to see if they fused (see photo below), a sign that they were from the same genetic individual, and used DNA fingerprinting to determine where one individual fungus ended.

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Mushrooms and Cancer

Pic: Lebrac (CC)

Pic: Lebrac (CC)

It’s about time more people are turning on to wisdom gleamed thousands of years ago about the miraculous fungi Kingdom. In addition to psilocybin-containing species playing key roles in catalyzing consciousness change, other non-psychoactive fungi are among some of the most powerful medicinal tools known to humanity.

Via The Guardian:

Behold the mighty mushroom. Neither plant nor animal, the mysterious fungus is a class, or kingdom, of its own, and has fascinated cultures around the world for centuries. But while they do make a tasty omelette filling, does the real magic of mushrooms lie not in their flavour, but in their potential to combat one of our biggest killers – cancer?

The ancient Egyptians believed eating mushrooms brought long life. While their scientific method was perhaps not entirely sound, modern scientists investigating the medicinal properties of the organism are beginning to produce some fascinating results. There are thousands of species of mushroom growing in the wild, but most studies have focused on three main varieties – reishi, maitake and shiitake.

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Monstrous 33 Pound Mushroom Discovered in China

china-s-monster-mushroom-weighing-33-pounds-could-be-a-world-record-breaker

Fungi from Yuggoth. I mean China.

How…Lovecraftian.

Via Science World Report:

A huge mushroom that is almost the size of a tire weighing 33 pounds has been unearthed by locals from the township of Puxiong in China’s Yunnan province.

The giant mushroom that stretches across 36 inches in diameter may be one of the largest ever mushroom discovered. The finder proudly put the large mushroom on display, triggering great excitement among the locals eager to take photographs of the unusual mushroom.

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Flesh-Eating Fungus Unexpectedly Killed Five People After Missouri Tornado, Scientists Warn

How society could crumble: chaos sown by flesh-eating fungus attacks in the aftermath of global warming-induced extreme weather. Via EurekAlert!:

A fast growing, flesh-eating fungus killed 5 people following a massive tornado that devastated Joplin, Mo., according to two new studies based on genomic sequencing by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health officials should be aware of infections caused by the fungus Apophysomyces, according to the studies, which tracked 13 people infected by the pathogen during the tornado [which] plowed through Joplin on May 22, 2011, initially killing 160 and injuring more than 1,000.

The common fungus — which lives in soil, wood or water — usually has no effect on people. But once it is introduced deep into the body through a blunt trauma puncture wound, it can grow quickly if the proper medical response is not immediate, the studies said.

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How Slime Molds Redefines Intelligence

Paging H.P. Lovecraft... Via Scientific American:
Something scientists have come to understand is that slime molds are much smarter than they look. One species in particular, the SpongeBob SquarePants–yellow Physarum polycephalum, can solve mazes, mimic the layout of man-made transportation networks and choose the healthiest food from a diverse menu—and all this without a brain or nervous system. "Slime molds are redefining what you need to have to qualify as intelligent," Reid says.
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Lichen Can Survive In Hostile Space Conditions

Humans are ill-equipped for traveling into outer space, but the same isn’t true for other earthly life forms. Should we send funguses to colonize our galaxy, before we go? Via Phenomenica:

In 2008 the European Space Agency sent a suitcase-sized experiment package to the International Space Station filled with organic compounds and living organisms to test their reaction to outer space.

When astronauts venture on a spacewalk, hours are spent preparing protective suits to survive the hostile conditions. However, no effort was made to protect the bacteria, seeds, lichen and algae attached to the outside of the space station.

The samples returned to Earth in 2009. Lichen have proven to be tough cookies – back on Earth, some species continue to grow normally. You can freeze it, thaw it, vacuum dry it and expose it to radiation, but lichen still survive.

Living organisms surviving in open space supports the idea of ‘panspermia’ — life spreading from one planet to another, or even between solar systems.

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Medical Study Of Three Real-Life Haitian Zombies

1218283_f260What causes zombification? Some mixture of schizophrenia, mistaken identity, a poison powder called tetrodotoxin, and amnesia. Mind Hacks writes:

We hear a lot about zombies these days, but many are unaware that in 1997 The Lancet published a medical study of three genuine Haitian zombies. The cases were reported by British anthropologist Roland Littlewood and Haitian doctor Chavannes Douyon and concerned three individuals identified as zombies after they had apparently passed away.

The Haitian explanation for how zombies are created involves the distinction between different elements of the human being – including the body, the gwobon anj (the animating principle) and the ti-bon anj, which represents something akin to agency, awareness, and memory.

In line with these beliefs is the fact that awareness and agency can be split off from the human being – and can be captured and stored in a bottle by a bòkò, a type of magician and spirit worker who can be paid to send curses or help individuals achieve their aims.

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