Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strange news

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook; an article about some orange goo washing up on a beach in Alaska.  At first they thought it might have been microscopic eggs of things.  Now they are saying that it's actually spores of a rust fungus.  Rusts are notoriously difficult fungi to work with because, for one thing, they have up to five different spore stages, and another, they are biotrophic, meaning they require a living host to survive and reproduce.  So if you don't have a living plant host, identification is especially difficult.   This is indeed some very strange news!

Update: 8/19/11.  Looks like I beat MSN to the punch! They're running the story on their front page today, though with few details.  Believe me,  I'll tell you what this thing turns out to be when I find out.  If I may stand on my soapbox for one small minute, this is an excellent example of why scientific illiteracy is a significant problem in our world. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Fastest Living Thing in the World

Once again, fungi are collecting superlatives. I had to check to make sure it's still considered a zygomycete (it is) but Pilobolus (not to be confused with the dance company) is reported to be the fastest living thing in the world.