Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This day in fungal history and other fungal news

So it's been a while since I mentioned any fungi in the news, but I thought this tidbit of fungal history merited mention. On this day in 1931, an outbreak of Dutch elm disease was reported in the Greater New York area. The causal agent, Ophiostoma ulmi (and later O. novo-ulmi as well) is an exotic fungus, and the naive elm hosts are killed in great numbers. The name of the disease comes from the nation where the earliest research was conducted. There isn't a "Dutch elm", and the agent is not from the Netherlands. The fungus currently pictured at right is a Leptographium, a closely related group of fungi.

Fungi are also getting a lot of press for the diseases they are causing in the animal kingdom. Frog populations have been in decline due to chytridiomycosis, and bats are getting hammered by white nose syndrome, caused by another fungus, Geomyces sp. The risk has prompted closure of several of Alabama's caves.

In happier news, a violin made of fungus-infected wood outplayed a Stradivarius (they don't mention WHICH fungi). Previously I had blogged an article which suggested that Stradivari used fungus-infested wood to produce his masterpieces.

And finally, a fungus, Metarhizium, may be enlisted to help fight varroa mites, which have been linked to honeybee decline.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jack O'Lantern Mushrooms

My eye was drawn to these babies as I was driving around town this afternoon. I do believe what we have here is jack o lantern mushrooms (Omphalotus sp.). They are common at the base of oak trees or on adjacent roots (as these were). These ones were really bright orange, so they stood out and I just had to stop and tiptoe across a bit of lawn to get these pics.
I've had a friend mistake these for chanterelles, as they do have decurrent gills, but fortunately she didn't eat them, as they are poisonous. Probably won't kill you, but you won't be happy for a while if you do try eating them.

Just in time for Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


So, if you've visited my blog from stem to stern, you've seen the map of all the states I've visited. It's only there to shamelessly burnish my own glory, I admit. Well, right now I'm in Montana, which means I've added a state to my life list, leaving only Alaska, Delaware, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota. I may have visited Delaware and not remembered it.

I'm planning on starting a post-doc out here in January, at least part-timing between Montana and Alabama, since I've got some roots in Alabama the Beautiful.

Here's a pic taken in Alabama by a friend of mine. I wish I could've seen this in person. That does appear to be a Hericium (coralloides or ramosum?), which is edible and choice.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A little bit of prime Alabamiana

Okay, this has nothing to do with fungi, but speaks volumes about Alabama. It's so awesome I had to watch it twice, post it here, and then I'm going to watch it again a time or two.