Tagged: cell biology

the composition and functions of fungal cells

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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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#013: Characteristics of Division Basidiomycota

Division Basidiomycota (also called Phylum Basidiomycota) accounts for about 37% of all described fungal species. This division contains the fungi that people are most familiar with. The classic “Mario mushroom” (based on Amanita muscaria), the grocery store button mushroom and other varieties of Agaricus bisporus, shiitakes, oyster mushrooms, and even the major “magic mushrooms” are all basidiomycetes. However, the Basidiomycota also include rusts and smuts, which are economically important plant pathogens, some yeasts, and a few lichenized fungi. Like the Ascomycota, the Basidiomycota fill a variety of different ecological roles. Many form mycorrhizas with plants, others parasitize plants, a lot decompose organic material, and some live in a variety of symbioses with insects. The Basidiomycota are commonly referred to as “basidiomycetes,” “basidios,” or “club fungi.”

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#015: Characteristics of Division Glomeromycota

The Glomeromycota are unusual and poorly understood organisms. Fungi from this division rarely produce easily visible structures and cannot be grown without a plant host, so investigating them is very difficult. Glomeromycotan fungi are some of the most important fungi on Earth because they form arbuscular mycorrhizas, which provide essential nutrients to the vast majority of terrestrial plants.

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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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2016 Fall 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: two-fungi lichens, the fate of bananas, battery recycyling, Crohn’s disease, orcas, human pathogenic fungi, and more! Visit the associated links to get the full story.

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Mycology News: April to June 2016

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: mycorrhizas, A. bisporus engineering, fungal evolution, psilocybin research, fungal concerns in medicine, rock-eating fungi, and more! Visit the associated links to get the full story.

#128: Anastamosis 2

#128: Anastamosis

Anastomosis is the process by which fungal cells fuse together. This process is very important for filamentous fungi because it allows them to form networks and is a key part to sexual reproduction.

#098: Psilocybin and Psilocin 3

#098: Psilocybin and Psilocin

These two toxins are the active chemicals in hallucinogenic mushrooms (often called “magic mushrooms” or “‘shrooms”). Psilocybin and psilocin belong to the LSD family of chemicals, but they are smaller than LSD and occur naturally in mushrooms.  These compounds can be found in a variety o f mushrooms, including many species in the genera Psilocybe, Conocybe, Panaeolus, and Gymnopilus.  Most often, the mushrooms eaten for their hallucinogenic effects belong to the genus Psilocybe, which lends its name to psilocybin and psilocin.

#097: Ibotenic Acid and Muscimol 0

#097: Ibotenic Acid and Muscimol

These two mushroom toxins impact the central nervous system and result in symptoms akin to alcohol intoxication. They are the primary toxins in the Fly Agaric, Amanita muscaria, and are responsible for the psychoactive affects of that mushroom.