Tagged: animal

interactions between fungi and animals

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#195: Warfarin, from Cow Disease to Medicine

Warfarin is one of the most successful drugs of all time. Seventy years after it was first synthesized, warfarin is still the most widely prescribed anticoagulant. Warfarin has a unique story. What began as depression-era research into a mysterious disease of cattle ended up producing two life-saving medicines and a rat poison that are still in use today.

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2017 Summer News Update

Fungi appear in the news with surprising frequency. However, many of those stories do not provide any new information. Below is a summary of what we’ve learned about fungi from May through early July 2017. Read below to learn about: early fungal fossils, fungal epigenetics, the best way to cook mushrooms, liver disease, malaria, and more! Visit the associated links to get the full story.

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2017 Spring News Update

Fungi appear in the news with surprising frequency. However, many of those stories do not provide any new information. Below is a summary of what we’ve learned about fungi from March through April 2017. Read below to learn about: C. auris in the U.S., aflatoxin-destroying corn, viruses defying fungal incompatibility, fungus-farming ant evolution, bat and salamander diseases, and more! Visit the associated links to get the full story.

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2017 Winter News Update

Fungi appear in the news with surprising frequency. However, many of those stories do not provide any new information. Below is a summary of what we’ve learned about fungi from November 2016 Through February 2017. Read below to learn about: bacteria-fungal interactions, snake fungal disease, psilocybin research, fungal furniture, white-nose syndrome, intelligent slime molds and more! Visit the associated links to get the full story.

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#171: Reindeer Lichen

Reindeer Lichens grow in northern temperate forests, boreal forests, and even in the tundra. They are highly branched, fruticose lichens that are a primary food source for reindeer (also called caribou in North America). These lichens are sometimes called “Reindeer Moss,” even though they are lichens and not moss.

Sirex noctilio female 0

#169: Sirex Woodwasp

Sirex noctilio, known as the “Sirex woodwasp” or “European woodwasp” (sometimes spelled “wood wasp”), is an invasive species that attacks most species of pine trees. Interestingly, the insect is dependent upon the fungus Amylostereum aerolatum to complete its life cycle. The Sirex woodwasp carries the fungus with it to new trees and in return the fungus becomes a meal for the Sirex woodwasp’s larvae.

#127: <em>Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola</em>, causal agent of Snake Fungal Disease 2

#127: Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, causal agent of Snake Fungal Disease

Snakes of the Eastern United States are dying of a disease called Snake Fungal Disease (SFD). Recently, the cause of SFD was identified as the fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola.  This fungus normally contributes to the decomposition of dead animals, but has for some reason been infecting live snakes since the early 2000’  SFD is primarily characterized by a severe rash on the snake’s skin, although it may also affect the snake’s eyes or even liver.  The infection often results in death and in some species the mortality rate appears to be 100%.

#116: <em>Scorias spongiosa</em> 0

#116: Scorias spongiosa

This bizarre fungus forms a fuzzy mat of tan to black tissue on the branches, trunks, and ground underneath American Beech trees. Scorias spongiosa belongs to a group of fungi called “sooty molds.”  Sooty molds digest the honeydew (essentially sugar-rich aphid poop) dropped by aphids in the process of feeding on plants.  There are many kinds of sooty molds and if you’ve ever had an aphid (or other insect) infestation on trees in your garden, they you’ve probably seen sooty molds.  Normally, sooty molds form a thin, black film on leaves and branches under places where the aphids are feeding.  spongiosa differs from normal sooty molds because it forms films that can be as thick as a football!

#058: <em>Cordyceps militaris</em>: the Scarlet Caterpillar Club 0

#058: Cordyceps militaris: the Scarlet Caterpillar Club

Cordyceps militaris is a fascinating fungus that infects caterpillar and moth larvae. What’s the creepiest thing about this fungus?  It mummifies its insect victims.  I’ve been told that it also makes its subterranean victims crawl to the surface so that it can more effectively release its spores, but I can’t find anything online to back that up.  Instead, everyone seems to want me to buy militaris (more on that later).  The Scarlet Caterpillar Club infects the larvae and pupae of a variety of caterpillars and moths.  Before they emerge as adults, the host insects live either underground or in decaying wood, so C. militaris mushrooms often look like a generic club fungus or earth tongue look-alike.  If you dig beneath the surface, however, you will find the mummified remains of the host insect, which provide the nutrients that C. militaris needs to produce spores.  Like other members of the Cordyceps...