Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sorry for the delay...

I've been in South Africa for the past month and a half, and will be until the end of November. But there has been some interesting mushroom news out there...

First of all, I haven't been able to find out which of these lovely ladies became the Texas Mushroom Festival Queen, and I'm pretty ticked off about it. There's been no follow up. (sigh)
But other interesting news has been developing.

Could fungi have contributed to the Stradivarius sound? This article suggests so. Xylaria longipes is not really a mushroom, per se, but is related to what I've been calling dead man's fingers. I had a fling with this family awhile ago, especially the genus Hypoxylon, and was interested in the decay caused by these fungi. While basidiomycetes, especially polypores, cause rots of the brown and white varieties. Ascomycetes like Xylaria cause 'soft rot', which has been classified as a type of white rot, but apparently the loss of wood structure is not as extreme, and can apparently still be used for wood under stress (like in a violin).

In other news, a Spanish man found a puffball weighing over 17 pounds. He declared it "too good to eat". Actually, my experience has been that bigger isn't always better with fruiting bodies, as far as flavor goes. Usually, the bigger ones are older, and may be past their peak. The puffball in question was a basidiocarp of Lycoperdon perlatum (in the article, Lycoperdum, which is incorrect), which has a funny translation.

And finally, mycodiesel? It appears that a certain fungus may be capable of turning wood fiber (cellulose) into diesel. Now wouldn't that be something? I mean, it shouldn't be such a surprise, seeing as yeasts have been converting sugar into ethanol for us for thousands of years, as well as making carbon dioxide to give us this day our daily bread. In the case of myco-diesel, the fungus in question is a mold (or mould, if you will), in the sense that it is a microfungus that may produce a macroscopic fruiting body, typically somewhere you don't want it. You can learn a lot about moulds (or molds) from this site. Why are molds and molds so different? I've often wondered, but have no answer.