Saturday, May 29, 2010


Bacteria are not fungi, although like fungi they are microorganisms. Jonathan Coulton, a brilliant composer and musician sampled a KFC instruction video to come up with this catchy gem. What I learned as Actinomycetes are actually bacteria, not fungi, and now they are more appropriately labled Actinobacteria. They do exhibit a filamentous form which did cause some confusion among the taxonomists for a while.

I like this video and song, though I'm not a big fan of bacteria like I am of fungi. You can download the mp3 for free! See under Other Experiments

Monday, May 17, 2010

Trip to the Netherlands

I just got back from a trip to the Netherlands and Belgium, accompanying my wife to one of her professional meetings. Before going I made plans to meet up with some professional contacts of my own. Fortunately, I did get to see Prof. Duur Aanen at Wageningen, and unfortunately I did not get to drop in at CBS to visit with Dr. Pedro Crous. By Friday, I was pretty wiped out from my travels and didn't feel up to getting on another train.

We stayed in Maastricht, in the Limburg region of the Netherlands, and it was quite nice. I got to eat plenty of the 'white gold of Limburg', which is their white asparagus. Though it looks like an achlorophyllous plant, the white color is achieved by etiolation, or deprivation of light. Soil is mounded up around the emerging stalks which then do not produce chlorophyll, yielding stalks that are tender and milder in flavor. Etiolation is part of the process used to produce enoki mushrooms from Flammulina velutipes. I once isolated from a F. velutipes sporocarp (mushroom), which grew in culture but not very happily. It actually produced tiny little mushrooms on the Petri plate, as if to say, "Get me the heck out of here!".

But I did get to meet with Duur Aanen, which was a great pleasure. One of his research foci has been fungus-farming termites. I got to help his students on some mound excavation when I was doing dissertation research in South Africa. I got to see his lab at Wageningen, and chat with some of his students.