Tagged: ecology

how fungi relate to other living things

Boletinellus merulioides 0

#143: Boletinellus merulioides, the Ash Tree Bolete

Boletinellus merulioides is an odd mushroom, both in appearance and ecology. The Ash Tree Bolete can be readily identified by its tube surface – which is only a few millimeters thick and looks more like a network of ridges – and by the fact that it fruits under only ash trees. B. merulioides appears under ash because it has a unique symbiotic relationship with a pest of ash trees: the Leafcurl Ash Aphid.

arbuscules in root 2

#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.

Fungi in the News Image 0

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.

Pleurotus ostreatus 2

#180: Pleurotoid Mushrooms

Pleurotoid mushrooms are agarics that have a single common feature: they lack a well-developed stipe. Originally, I was not going to include pleurotoid mushrooms as a distinct agaric morphology. Their other physical characteristics vary widely and they belong to multiple unrelated taxonomic groups. To anyone classifying mushrooms, grouping them based on pleurotoid growth is decidedly unhelpful. However, it is a useful group from a field guide standpoint because it quickly reduces the number of possible matches. Eventually, I decided to discuss the pleurotoid mushrooms because they are often mentioned in field guides and because “pleurotoid” is a commonly-used mushroom descriptor.

Fungi in the News Image 0

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.

Hypomyces chrysospermus 1

#158: Hypomyces chrysospermus, the Bolete Eater

Occasionally, you encounter something that has the stature and shape of a bolete but is completely smooth underneath its cap. “What can this be?” you ask. “No crust fungi are this fleshy or have such a well-defined cap and stem.” It turns out that you did find a bolete, only it is being parasitized by another fungus! Hypomyces chrysospermus is a common parasite of all kinds of boletes. It forms a crust that often completely engulfs its host. The “Bolete Eater,” “Bolete Mold,” or “Golden Hypomyces” is easy to identify, thanks to its preference for boletes and its white to yellow color scheme.

Dead Frog 1

#157: Chytridiomycosis

Chytridiomycosis is a disease causing precipitous declines in frog and salamander populations on a global scale. There are two fungi responsible for this disease: Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Batrachochytrium salamandivorans (Bsal). The former can infect all amphibians while the latter infects only salamanders and newts. Both of these pathogens belong to the fungal phylum Chytridiomycota. Fungi in this phylum (“chytrids”) have a very simple cell structure and produce spores with flagella. Because of this, they can easily swim through water and infect amphibian hosts.

Fungi in the News Image 0

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.

#143: <em>Boletinellus merulioides</em>, the Ash Tree Bolete [Archived] 0

#143: Boletinellus merulioides, the Ash Tree Bolete [Archived]

Note: This is an archived post. You can find the current version of this post here. Boletinellus merulioides is an odd mushroom, both in appearance and ecology. The Ash Tree Bolete can be readily identified by its pore surface – which is only a few millimeters thick and looks more like a network of ridges – and by the fact that it fruits only under ash trees.  merulioides appears under ash because it has a unique symbiotic relationship with a pest of ash trees: the Leafcurl Ash Aphid.

#141: <em>Pilobolus</em> spp., the Hat Throwers 0

#141: Pilobolus spp., the Hat Throwers

Fungi in the genus Pilobolus grow on the dung (they are “coprophilous”) of herbivores and are well-known for their unique spore dispersal mechanism. Using highly specialized spore-bearing hyphae, the fungus can launch globs of spores up to 3m (10ft) away!  Its genus name literally means “Hat Thrower,” which is also used as a common name.  Another common name is “Shotgun Fungus,” but that can also be applied to Sphaerobolus spp. (FFF#122), so I recommend against using that name.