Tag Archives | Fungus

The Mushroom That Eats Plastic

Mushroom 001Is this the answer to the ever-growing plastic scourge on our planet? From co.exist:

The Amazon is home to more species than almost anywhere else on earth. One of them, carried home recently by a group from Yale University, appears to be quite happy eating plastic in airless landfills.

The group of students, part of Yale’s annual Rainforest Expedition and Laboratory with molecular biochemistry professor Scott Strobel, ventured to the jungles of Ecuador. The mission was to allow “students to experience the scientific inquiry process in a comprehensive and creative way.” The group searched for plants, and then cultured the microorganisms within the plant tissue. As it turns out, they brought back a fungus new to science with a voracious appetite for a global waste problem: polyurethane.

The common plastic is used for everything from garden hoses to shoes and truck seats. Once it gets into the trash stream, it persists for generations.

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Number Of Species On Earth Estimated At 8.7 Million

SpeciesEver wonder how many species are sharing this Earth? Apparently it’s 8.7 million, give or take a few. This takes into account the few thousand plant or marine species we haven’t discovered yet or documented. Via Physorg:

That is a new, estimated total number of species on Earth — the most precise calculation ever offered — with 6.5 million species found on land and 2.2 million (about 25 percent of the total) dwelling in the ocean depths.

Announced today by Census of Marine Life scientists, the figure is based on an innovative, validated analytical technique that dramatically narrows the range of previous estimates. Until now, the number of species on Earth was said to fall somewhere between 3 million and 100 million.

Furthermore, the study, published today by PLoS Biology, says a staggering 86% of all species on land and 91% of those in the seas have yet to be discovered, described and catalogued.

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Easter Island May Hold Anti-Aging Miracle Drug

easter-island-head-289121-swThe secret to slowing down aging is in the soil? Easter Island continues to grow spookier and spookier. The Independent reports:

A drug originating on Easter Island, the mysterious South Pacific home of a lost statue-building people, may become the first substance to slow down human aging, new research indicates.

Rapamycin, a pharmacological product used to prevent rejection in organ transplants, has been found to extend the lifespan of mice by up to 38 per cent, raising the possibility that it may delay ageing in people.

Rapamycin is a bacterial product originally found in a soil sample from Easter Island. Originally developed as an anti-fungal agent, rapamycin was soon found to have powerful immuno-suppressant properties and thus be valuable for preventing rejection of transplanted organs. Now, however, it has been shown to affect the ageing of mice – the first time that this has ever been shown with a mammal.

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Killer Fungus Spreading In U.S. & Canada

Amanda Gardner reports on the deadly fungus for CNN:

A rare but life-threatening tropical fungus that causes lung infections in both people and animals has been seen in the Pacific Northwest and could spread, researchers are reporting.

The fungus, known as Cryptococcus gattii (or C. gattii), has infected dozens of humans and animals–including cats, dogs, and dolphins–in Washington and Oregon in the past five years. While rare, the fungus has been lethal in about 25 percent of the people in the U.S. who have developed infections, according to Edmond Byrnes III, a doctoral student in molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University and one of the lead authors of a new study about the fungus.

In the study, Byrnes and his colleagues analyzed 18 cases in people and 21 in animals that occurred in the U.S. between 2005 and 2009.

The symptoms of infection include chest pain, a persistent cough, shortness of breath, fever, and weight loss.

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