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Fungal Forteana / Fortean Fungi

Yesterday there was a great crop of Agaricus in this urban lawn. It would be a great meal if not for the dog ....
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Mushroom season is starting in the city. The usual suspects from earlier years:
Coprinus, Agaricus, Leccinum duriusculum, Russula

First three are edible, last one could be / might be not.
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The explosion that blew a hole in the No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 was devastating. In some parts of the plant, the level of radiation spiked so high that exposure would kill a human in about 60 seconds. But several species of fungi have been discovered in the reactor. And they're thriving, "feeding" on the extreme levels of radiation.

A new study, yet to undergo peer review, was published on the pre-print repository bioRxiv on July 17 and examines one of these species, Cladosporium sphaerospermum. It suggests the fungi could be used as a self-healing, self-replicating shield to protect astronauts in deep space. Specialist science publication New Scientist reported on the findings on July 24.

https://www.cnet.com/news/self-repl...d-could-protect-the-iss-from-space-radiation/
 
Not all fungi are funny ... Some can seriously f**k up other organisms ...



SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/28/science/cicadas-fungus-butts.html

They're back!

JULY 27, 2020
Return of the zombie cicadas: Team unearths manipulative qualities of fungal-infected flyers
by West Virginia University

Cicadas infected with the parasitic fungus Massospora unknowingly engage in trickery with their fellow insects, resulting in effective disease transmission, according to West Virginia University-led research.


Massospora manipulates male cicadas into flicking their wings like females—a mating invitation—which tempts unsuspecting male cicadas and infects them.

It's a recent discovery into the bizarre world of cicadas plagued by a psychedelic fungus that contains chemicals including those found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. The research, "Behavioral betrayal: How select fungal parasites enlist living insects to do their bidding," was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

https://phys.org/news/2020-07-zombie-cicadas-team-unearths-qualities.html

See Also:

https://scitechdaily.com/return-of-...ualities-of-fungal-infected-flyers-unearthed/
 
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Fungus causes hair like ice formations!
hair ice.jpg
Scroll down to "Air Ice" (it's a typo, should be "hair ice") https://www.weather.gov/owlie/weird-weather

"On cold and humid nights in some northern forests, you can find something strange growing on rotting branches. It’s ice, but nothing like you’ve seen before. There are thousands of long, thin strands of the stuff, as thick as human hair and all packed together in soft waves. What you’re looking at is, fittingly enough, called hair ice.
The way these woolly growths formed had puzzled scientists since 1918, but we know the culprit now — it’s a fungus!"
 
The carbonaceous winners are plants, which make up about 80 percent of all biomass on Earth. Bacteria comes in second at 13 percent and fungus is third at just 2 percent.

Of the 550 gigatons of biomass carbon on Earth, animals make up about 2 gigatons, with insects comprising half of that and fish taking up another 0.7 gigatons. Everything else, including mammals, birds, nematodes and mollusks are roughly 0.3 gigatons, with humans weighing in at 0.06 gigatons. The research appears in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The fact that the biomass of fungi exceeds that of all animals’ sort of puts us in our place,” Harvard evolutionary biologist James Hanken, who was not involved with the study, tells Borenstein.
 
A discussion of fungi on Mars: With striking pictures:

https://www.overcomingbias.com/2021/05/parsing-pictures-of-mars-muck.html

On Thursday I came across this article, which discusses the peer-reviewed journal article, “Fungi on Mars? Evidence of Growth and Behavior From Sequential Images”. As its pictures seemed to me to suggest fungal life active now on Mars, I tweeted “big news!” Over the next few days it got some quite negative news coverage, mainly complaining that the first author (out of 11 authors) had no prestigious affiliation and expressed other contrarian opinions, and also that the journal charged fees to authors.
 
The carbonaceous winners are plants, which make up about 80 percent of all biomass on Earth. Bacteria comes in second at 13 percent and fungus is third at just 2 percent.

Of the 550 gigatons of biomass carbon on Earth, animals make up about 2 gigatons, with insects comprising half of that and fish taking up another 0.7 gigatons. Everything else, including mammals, birds, nematodes and mollusks are roughly 0.3 gigatons, with humans weighing in at 0.06 gigatons. The research appears in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The fact that the biomass of fungi exceeds that of all animals’ sort of puts us in our place,” Harvard evolutionary biologist James Hanken, who was not involved with the study, tells Borenstein.
Lets see some of those plants function without the fungi though! So in terms of importance fungi clearly win.
 
Now that the Brood X cicadas are poised to emerge it's time for the recurrent reminder about the fungus that infects cicadas and benefits from eating them up and revving them up.
Fungus full of psychedelic drugs could cause Indiana Brood X cicadas' butts to fall off

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It sounds like a twisted mix of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and a Grateful Dead show. But John Lill promises that it’s all too real.

This month, as billions of Brood X cicadas emerge from the dirt in Indiana and more than a dozen other states for the first time in 17 years, some of the bugs will suffer a horrific, science-fiction-like fate. There’s no delicate way to do this, so here’s the gist all at once.

A fungus laced with the same chemical as psychedelic mushrooms will invade their bodies and eat away their insides until their abdomens crack, fall off and get replaced with a ball of white spores. Because they’re either bombed on psilocybin or under the control of the fungus in some other way, the cicadas won’t even notice. With missing butts and full hearts, they’ll forge ahead with their only reason for existing: finding a mate and reproducing.

Of course, that last part will be impossible with half their body rotted away.

“Really what they’re doing is spreading these spores all over the place,” said Lill, a cicada expert and chair of biology at George Washington University. “It’s a sexually transmitted fungus. They engage in normal courtship behavior, yet their abdomen is a big fungal mass. Instead, the attempted copulation results in spreading the fungus even more.”

Called Massospora cicadina, the fungus can inflict both males and females. ...

As PBS’ Anna Rothschild argued in an episode of “Gross Science,” a little empathy wouldn’t hurt.

“Imagine if, after a lifetime underground, you only had a few glorious weeks to live in the sun, eat and mate,” she said. “And then your butt fell off.”
FULL STORY: http://www.southbendtribune.com/new...cle_60c6c146-b4e8-11eb-9046-c32f2959461d.html
 
Would our resident Fungi expert be able to enlighten me on this particular specimen that has recently appeared on our morning walk. And would it be safe to consume for breakfast?
 

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Would our resident Fungi expert be able to enlighten me on this particular specimen that has recently appeared on our morning walk. And would it be safe to consume for breakfast?
Sorry. The tree is standing up, it’s the photo that’s laying down.
 
Would our resident Fungi expert be able to enlighten me on this particular specimen that has recently appeared on our morning walk. And would it be safe to consume for breakfast?
From that shot it looks like Laetiporus sulphureus, the sulphur bracket. Personally I’m not going to comment on edibility, particularly from a photograph. What I will say is if you don’t know 100% what it is don’t eat it.
 
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