Wednesday, April 20, 2011

WOW! Cool fungus-orchid news

In my inbox, I found an article from PNAS via Discover's blog.  I've currently having a bit of a nergasm, this is so cool.  I've recently started collecting orchids, which are about as strange as fungi (and intimately associated with fungi, by the way), so this really caught my eye.  A rare orchid's leaves look like they're infected with a fungus, both macroscopically and microscopically, attracting flat-footed flies to pollinate them.  The flies are attracted to sick and rotting vegetation feeding on the spores, so the orchid has evolved to look just like an infected plant, even when healthy.  The flies visit, pick up pollen, and move on to the next orchid, effectively transferring pollen.  The orchid's leaf hairs even look like spores of a fungus, and the scent produced by the flower is similar to that of the fungus, further developing the ruse.

Part of me thinks this may be an April Fool's Day joke, though that would be highly irregular for a journal such as PNAS.  Orchids are notorious for their ability to mimic other organism's for the purpose of achieving cross-pollination, here's a video of some bee-mimic orchids.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Old Fisheries Pond

I went out after a wet weekend to see if anything had come up. I did find a few things, like this lovely little Scutellinia scutellata, the eyelash fungus. This cute little asco is not in Bessette et al. or Weber and Smith, for some odd reason.  But it's here, for sure. 
Scutellinia scutellata, Pyronemataceae, Pezizales, Ascomycota
It seems as though Monday has been giant storm day over the past few weeks, with storms rolling in overnight and taking down trees.  All the moisture has had the cedar apple rust going gangbusters as well.
Telial horns out the wazoo! I did get a peak under a compound scope and saw the two-celled teliospores, which look like two cones facing each other.  I didn't see any basidia or basidiospores that I could discern, though.  I'll take another look later today.