Tagged: food

fungi important for making food

Coffee Rust 0

#049: Coffee Rust

Coffee Rust, also known as Coffee Leaf Rust and in Spanish as “roya,” is a disease of coffee plants that is caused by the fungus Hemileia vastatrix.1–3 H. vastatrix is, as its common name implies, a member of the rusts (FFF#130). Unlike most rusts, however, it has a simple infect-sporulate life cycle, which is likely one reason the disease has been so successful.1 Coffee Rust is a particular problem in Central America, produces 15% of the world’s arabica coffee and exports roughly 432 million kilograms of coffee to the United States annually. The region suffered a devastating outbreak of the disease in the early 2010’s and has yet to fully recover.4–6

Fungi in the News Image 0

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.

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.

Fungi in the News Image 1

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.

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.

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.

#131: Class Ustilaginomycetes, Smut Fungi 0

#131: Class Ustilaginomycetes, Smut Fungi

These fungi are obligate plant pathogens with life cycles similar to the rust fungi. Thankfully, the smut fungi have much simpler life cycles: only one host and only two spore types.  To make matters easier, smut fungi only infect flowering plants (angiosperms), with just five known exceptions out of the over 1,400 described species.  Wondering about their common name?  Although the word “smut” has come to mean “something obscene,” it originally meant “dirt” or “excrement.”  Smut fungi produce copious amounts of powdery, black spores, which look like dirt en masse.  “Smutted wheat,” therefore, is wheat that has had its seeds replaced by the dirt-like spores of a smut fungus.

#113: <em>Moniliophthora perniciosa</em>, Witches’ Broom Disease of Cacao Trees 1

#113: Moniliophthora perniciosa, Witches’ Broom Disease of Cacao Trees

Witches might not be real, but witches’ brooms certainly are – and they’re destroying chocolate! Yes, Halloween’s favorite treat (chocolate) is suffering at the hands of a disease with a Halloween-themed name: Witches’ Broom Disease.  Witches’ brooms are actually fairly common and occur on many different plants.  In chocolate trees (Cacao trees, Theobroma cacao, whose genus name literally means “food of the gods”), witches’ brooms are caused by the fungal pathogen Moniliophthora perniciosa and have an enormous economic impact on chocolate production in Central and South America.

#107: The Banana and <em>Fusarium oxysporum </em>f. sp.<em> cubense</em> 0

#107: The Banana and Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense

The banana that you know and love may soon be a thing of the past. I know, you probably think that I’m exaggerating the threat to this ubiquitous crop, but the possibility of bananas disappearing from grocery shelves forever is very real.  In fact, it nearly happened once before.  Here is a brief history of the modern banana: in the 1950’s, bananas were wiped out by a disease called Panama Disease.  To save the crop, a resistant variety was discovered.  Today, Panama Disease has evolved to attack the resistant variety, thus threatening to decimate banana production for a second time.  This time, however, there is not a fallback option.

#096: The Great Famine of Ireland and <em>Phytophthora infestans</em> 0

#096: The Great Famine of Ireland and Phytophthora infestans

In celebration of Independence Day, I have decided to discuss a fungus-related event which significantly impacted the history of the United States (Don’t worry; I will get to the remaining mushroom toxins in the next few weeks). America is a country of immigrants, so on the day that we celebrate the founding of our country, it only seems fitting that we take a moment to remember how immigration has shaped our history.