Category Archives: Mycology News

Devastating Fungal Disease Found in Michigan

The fungal disease, Boxwood blight has been detected in Michigan according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.  Responsible for causing over $3 million in damages during the first year of detection in Connecticut, the importance of this pathogen cannot be overstated. Boxwood (Buxus sp.) is one of the more popular woody plants in landscapes […]

Bioelectricity Using Button Mushrooms

A group at Stevens Institute of Technology are using Agaricus bisporus, cyanobacteria, and graphine nanoribbons to make a “bionic mushroom produce electricity,” according to Manu Mannoor, the assistant professor leading this project.  Though cyanobacteria can be used to produce electricity, their life on artificial surfaces is too short to be of much use in bioengineering. […]

Yeast-Associated Asthma

Asthma affects 339 million people globally and the rate of increase is about 50% each decade. A study on the relationship between the gut microbiome and risk for asthma was conducted in Ecuador. Researchers analyzed the gut of babies, looking for microbes that were associated with atopic wheeze at 5 years old, an early indicator […]

Mycelium: Designing the way we explore Mars

Martian shoes made of mycelium??? According to an article produced by the BBC, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City wanted to find someone who could redesign, in a way, the moon boots from the 1970s’ moon explorations. Luckily enough, Liz Ciokajlo, was one such designer. She was super excited about this commission […]

Complete genomes from single-cells of unculturable fungi

In recent years, environmental DNA (eDNA) has allowed us to identify large numbers of unculturable fungi and exime their diversity using “barcodes.” However, except for knowing that these species are present and generally how their ITS sequence relates to other fungi, we know very little about these cryptic organisms. Now researchers at the U.S. Department […]

El Portobello: The Mushroom Surfboard

Two surfers out of southern California have produced the first 100% biodegradable surfboard, named “El Portobello”. Similar to the industry lecture in class, SurfO founders David Purser and Daniel Del Toro filled a mold with mulch and inoculum in an attempt to form a surfboard. Ecovative, a company out of New York, provided the dehydrated […]

Fungi Recieved Crytsal forming Gene from Bacteria

Research published in April of 2018 showed that the ancestor of  a fungus, Phycomyces blakesleeanus,  received a crucial gene for sensing gravity from ancient bacteria (Fig 1). Researchers determined that this fungus contains a single protein called OCTIN which is responsible for producing the unique crystal matrix in Phycomyces blakesleeanus. Next, this protein was traced back to a […]

Possible Mycovirus Control of White Mold

Researchers have discovered a mycovirus, SsHADV-1, which can infect Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Fig 1).This white mold pathogen infects hundreds of plant species including economically relevant species such as soybean.  This research has recently come into greater focus with similar strategies being used to to control diseases such as chestnut blight. The research has begun to see success because […]

Black fungi help protect wood, but it’s useless to you.

Research conducted, by a (poor) PHD candidate, in Norway and in the Netherlands finds a fungus that can protect wood from rotting. This fungus seems to protect it from other fungi by its dense growth habit as well as protect it from the suns UV rays thanks to its dark pigmentation. The caveat is that it […]

New Methods for Fighting White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

Photo: CREDIT RYAN VON LINDEN / NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION White-Nose Syndrome, caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) is a devasting disease which has killed millions of hibernating bats in North America. National Geographic’s Jasson Bittel reported on new means by which researchers are attempting to remedy the disease. The first of these approaches involves […]

Mushroom-Algae Solar Cells

In the field, it is not unusual to encounter fungi with a diverse microbiota on their caps, which sometime includes the green stains of algae. EurekAlert reported this week on an article published in Nano Letters. The authors used white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) as a cyanobacteria-friendly substrate for bioelectricity generation. The cyanobacteria had previously been evaluated for […]

Follow your nose to where the diseases grow!

There is a new weapon in the fight against the fungal disease killing native trees in Hawaiʻi.  Belgian Malinois a breed of dog are now being trained as a detector of Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death.Hawaiian Officials say preliminary trials show great potential for using dogs for early identification of trees impacted by Rapid ‘Ōhi‘a Death, also […]

Medicinal Caterpillar Fungus Endangered

The caterpillar fungus, Ophiocordyceps sinensis, is a close relative of more well known “zombie-ant” fungus, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis. Similar to it’s cousin, the “zombie-ant” fungus, O. sinesis does infect insects – the larval stage of the ghost moth, Hepialus humuli. However, instead of producing compounds to infect and modify insect brains, the caterpillar fungus is known to produce compounds with medicinal, aphrodisiac, and athletic […]

Frog communities coexist with deadly chytrid fungus and are recovering

In 2004 a deadly chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, killed frogs in Panama by the thousands. This chytrid decimated the population of frogs within the span of a couple months, with half of the frogs species native to the area going extinct. however, this isn’t where the story ends. Within a decade the remaining frogs were able […]

First Genetic Profile of an Aspergillus Section

A team of scientists out of the Technical University of Denmark presented the first sequence analysis of a fungal subgroup of Aspergillus. This genus plays a key role in agriculture, fermentation, biotechnology, and health, serving as the “Swiss Army knife of fungal genera,” said co-author Scott Baker. Researchers looked at 23 genomes of section Nigri […]

Astonishing plastic degrading fungus is discovered amidst garbage dump!

Researcher, To Sehroon Khan, and his team from China went sampling in Pakistan in 2017. Instead of going to some untouched natural area, they went…(yes, that’s right!) to explore garbage dumps! After collecting samples there, researchers took specimens back to China where they discovered a entirely new strain of Aspergillus tubingensis. Not only did they find […]

Mushrooms as vitamins

Vitamin D is an important nutrient to humans, where deficiencies result in diseases like rickets and other bone deficiencies. Most humans get their vitamin D from a natural internal process triggered by sunlight, but for those of us in the north, that’s often difficult in the winter. To help us get through winter, many people […]

Honeybees gain viral protection from eating polypore extracts

Paul Stamets of Washington State University and colleagues tested whether diet supplementation of a sugar solution or extracts of the fungi Fomes fomentarius and Ganoderma resinaceum helped fend of viral infections such as honey bee deformed wing virus and Lake Sinai virus. In their field trials, colonies fed Ganoderma resinaceum extract exhibited a 79-fold reduction in Deformed wing Virus and a 45,000-fold […]

Lager yeast getting a documentary

In the world of beer brewing, yeast is one of the most important ingredients, and greatly influences the taste. Ale yeasts are well documented, but for years people brewed lagers and hoped that they would end up as expected. Genetic analysis showed that an isolated lager yeast was a hybrid between an ale yeast and […]

Deadly behavior-modifying weapon identified in insect-world chemical arms race

Leafcutter ants belonging to the genera Atta and Acromyrmex are well-known for their specialized gardening skills. Endemic to South and Central America, leafcutter ants cultivate specialized fungi on mulch that they make from chewed leaves. Unfortunately, the leafcutter ant’s fungal gardens are susceptible to a specialized fungal parasite known as Escovopsis that has co-evolved to […]

Massasaugas snake skin microbiome is altered by fungal diseases

This study, from Illinois, focuses on the alteration of the Massasaugas snake skin microbiome by fungal diseases. Massasaugas are extremely susceptible to infection by Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola which will cause open sores and a high mortality rate within infected populations. Unfortunately, the mechanism by which this fungus causes disease is unknown. To better understand how this […]

Pollution is hitting the fungi that nourish European trees

 A ten-year European study  recently published in Nature led by Imperial College London and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, researchers showed that tree characteristics and local air and soil quality have a large impact on mycorrhizae. They examined 40,000 roots from 13,000 soil samples at 137 forest sites in 20 European countries. The team proposed […]

Advancements made in desert truffle mycorrhization of Helianthemum

Shifting away from traditional spore driven inoculation of Helianthemum plants with Terfezia claveryi, the desert truffle, may become increasingly popular among the growers of this prized truffle as mycelial inoculation techniques improve. In a recently published article in the journal Mycorrhiza, “Mycelium of Terfezia claveryi as inoculum source to produce desert truffle mycorrhizal plants,” Arenas, et al. have […]

Is eating mushrooms helpful for sugar metabolism?

DW News reported this week on a paper published in the Journal of Functional Foods by Tian et al. at Penn State University. The news article claims that eating 1 serving per day of white button mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus) can help to regulate blood sugar by influencing the bacteria in your gut. The study they […]

3rd Generation Sequencing Improves Fungal Barcoding

Improvements in DNA sequencing has impacted research in many ways. Known as “3rd generation” sequencing platforms, PacBio and Oxford Nanopore technologies allow sequencing of very long reads (>100kb) compared to classical Sanger Sequencing (<800bp). Common DNA regions that are sequenced for identifying fungi to a species level include the external transcribed spacer (ETS), small ribosomal […]

New fungus found on pistachio trees in Italy

Picture 1: Symptoms caused by Liberomyces pistaciae sp. nov. ( Vitale et al)     Published on EurekAlert! The global source for science news. Word of the day: Gummosis- Disgusting sticky mess caused by sap flows that are usually do to pest or pathogen damage   In 2010 Pistachio growers in Italy were seeing canker […]

Shroom boom: Mushroom pickers find big ones in UP

Some huge mushrooms are popping up in the UP! The most notable finding at present was by a resident of Quinnesec in the upper peninsula who found a volleyball sized puffball mushroom in Dickson county. According to him, there are a number of fairly large mushrooms growing in the UP and although the spring apparently […]

Fungi are important for regulating the climate

Above-ground fruiting bodies are plentiful this time of year, but the below-ground fungi are probably even more important. Fungal biomass in forests contribute to massive carbon sequestration. It has been estimated that there would be twice as much carbon in the atmosphere without the fungal cells. Deforestation is contributing to increased atmospheric CO2 by destroying […]

Kew Gardens Releases Report on World Fungi

On September 12, 2018 the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens released their first ever report on the state of the world’s fungi.  This report included contributions from authors from around the world, and had sections detailing important advances in fungal genomics, the study of plant fungal interactions, as well as updates on the global conservation status […]

Sooty Molds

This interesting specimen was found in the Sanford natural are on the north side of campus. At first I did not know what to think, is this even a fungus? I felt the black mass and to my surprise it was quite soft and spongy. I packed a blackened leaf in my pocket and went […]

Current Fungal Biology – The importance of the mycobiome in wound treatment

The human microbiome is defined as the assemblage of microorganisms that live in close association to the human body. These organisms may be mutualists, parasites, or simply just hanging on for the ride. However, how these populations grow, affect human physiology, and how they are structured is not well known. The human mycobiome, a subset […]

The unexpected dangers of mushroom hunting in France

Mushroom hunting is one of the popular activities in France. However, it can be a harmful hobby. In Rhone-Alpes region in France some of the mushrooms had high level of cesium radioactive element. This is believed to be due to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, which happened 30 years ago. Locals also think that this could […]

Bioluminescence in the ghost fungus Omphalotus nidiformis does not attract potential spore dispersing insects

Omphalotus nidiformis (Agaricales, Marasmiaceae), commonly called the ghost fungus, is a bioluminescent fungus with a widespread distribution in temperate zones of Australia. A study conducted by researchers at The University of Adelaide, suggests that bioluminescence in O. nidiformis does not attract potential spore dispersing insects, as has been demonstrated in other bioluminescent fungi. Weinstein, et […]

Farming a pathogen?

Normally corn smut is a nuisance in corn fields in the America and Canada, but one Canadian researcher is looking to farm the fungus itself and sell it as a specialty food. This fungus, Ustilago maydis, is called corn smut in the united states. However, in Mexico it is called huitlacoche and is eaten as a specialty food. […]

New Monsanto Seed with Fungus Coating

Monsanto recently revealed their newest product: a maize seed pre-coated with microscopic fungi that promote plant growth. This is the first commercial product to result from the partnership between Monsanto and Novozymes. The fungal inoculant is called Acceleron B-300 SAT. It contains spores of the soil fungus Penicillium bilaiae, which promotes plant growth by enhancing […]

New test for differentiation of wheat blast strains

The High Plains Journal, which is a highly read Agricultural journal for farmers, put out an article about a new test for discriminating native Magnaporthe oryzae triticum from the new invasive strain. In 2016 this pathogen which causes “wheat blast” was detected outside of South America for the first time (see a previous blog entry on […]

Alternaria alternata Alt a 1 protein could be a cause of asthma allergies in humans

Alternaria species are pathogenic to both humans and plants. In humans, it causes several types of diseases such as hypersensitivity, pneumonitis, bronchial asthma, allergic sinusitis and rhinitis. In plants it infects more than 100 species such as potatoes, tomatoes, sugarbeets, and cucumbers. Alternaria species are found in many parts of the world, mostly in warm […]

$10M Fight Against Ohi’a Death

A new disease caused by the fungus Certocystis fimbriata is infecting and causing mass mortality of Metrosideros polymorpha (commonly called ohi’a), the most abundant native tree in Hawai’i. Additionally, the form and function of the treat make them the most important watershed tree on the island. Healthy trees appear to die within a few days to a few […]

Slow-Growing Bacterium can Outcompete Relatives with Help of Fungi

A recent paper by Benjamin Wolfe et al. at Tufts University showed that a slow-growing bacterium can outcompete its relatives with the help of fungi in the genus Scopulariopsis. In the study, they evaluated the relative abundance of three species Staphylococcus bacteria (see image). Staphylococcus equorum was the slowest grower in lab tests where the bacteria were grown […]

Program Teaches How to Protect Oaks from Fungal Disease

David Roberts, a plant pathologist at Michigan State University, gave a free educational presentation in Kalamazoo to help homewoners and arborists ensure the long-term health of neighborhood trees. Oak wilt is an aggressive disease that affects oak tree species, and is one of leading disease for tree mortality in the Eastern United States. The fungal […]

Scientists reanimate 220-year-old brewer’s yeast

In February 1797, the British trading ship the Sydney Cove was caught in a storm as it neared the end of its journey from Calcutta to Port Jackson, the prison colony that would later become the city of Sydney, Australia. The ship sank after running aground on an island that is now named Port Preservation, […]

Wheat Blast in Bangladesh For First Time

Wheat fields in Bangladesh were devastated with a new disease to the region known as a wheat blast. This new disease damaged over 15,000 hectares of wheat fields where wheat is the second most important food crop. Wheat blast is a fungal disease caused by Magnaporthe oryzae. This fungus is known to be pathogenic of […]

Myco-materials may be the future of fabric manufacturing

Philip Ross began his career working as a chef and artist in the 1980s. As he worked with mushrooms in the kitchen, he was inspired to use them in an architectural art project that eventually grew into an entrepreneurial venture in 2013 when he started MycoWorks. The start-up company grows Ganoderma lucidum into flexible leather-like […]

Domestication influences fungal community composition of sunflower

Studying the assembly of fungal and bacterial communities on plant roots can help us understand how to manage microbiomes to improve crop health and yields. However, our current understanding of assembly of fungal assembly on plant roots is lacking and furthermore we do not have a good understanding on how plant domestication influence fungal communities. […]

Mycelial networks from soil oomycetes promote bacterial horizontal gene transfer.

The exchange of genetic material between bacteria, known as Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT) is an evolutionary mechanism that allows bacteria to acquire new traits hundreds of times faster than they would do by mutation. This process normally occurs in nature in three different forms known as transformation, transduction and conjugation; And the speed at which […]

An early warning for forest health

Lichens have been studied as an early warning system for forest health by the United States Forest Service since the 1980s. Lichens are sensitive to pollution as they readily absorb pollutants from the air as a function of the concentration of pollutants in the air. Therefore by tracking the abundance of lichen species over time […]

Vital AM fungi damaged by GM Bt cotton

A recent paper, titled “Evidences of inhibited arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal development and colonization in multiple lines of Bt cotton”, by Chen et al., found that transgenic cotton genetically modified to express Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), an insect toxin, inhibits the development of Rhizophagus irregularis, a common beneficial arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungus. The highlights of the paper include: – Bt cotton […]

‘Snake fungal disease’ plagues North America

The first observation that something might be wrong with North American snakes was in 2006. Scientists noticed a severe population crash in timber rattle snakes in New Hampshire, with less than 50% of snakes surviving after the bottle neck event. The cause was determined to be a fungal infection on the snake’s skin. Since this […]

A quorum sensing-system regulates virulence in the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans

Quorum sensing (QS) is a mechanism of cell-cell communication, in which secreted signaling molecules influence population function and gene expression. Bacterial QS systems and its role in virulence has been extensively researched with especial focus on pathogenic bacteria. However, QS-like phenomena in eukaryotes, have been just reported and their functions, molecules and mechanisms remain largely […]

$112,000 Truffle!

Recently, at the 17th annual World Alba White Truffle Charity Auction, which took place in Piedmont, Italy and Philadelphia, a white truffle sold for $112,000! This truffle was about 2.5 lbs and the bidding began at $480 an ounce. White truffles have about a seven day shelf life so time was crucial. This was a […]

Antarctic fungi able to survive martian conditions

In preparation for life-detection experiments in Mars, scientists perform studies using terrestrial organism able to grow in extreme conditions analog of Mars conditions. Fungi and cyanobacteria able to grow in Antarctic lie inside the narrow spectra of organisms than can be used for such purpose, due to the demanding conditions of their habitat characterized by […]

Endophytic Trichoderma Protects Tomato Plants Against Nematodes

One major enemy of tomato plants is the nematode Meloidogyne incognita. This pest infests the roots of the plant, inducing the formation of a gall where the nematodes lives protected from other predators while draining energy and nutrients from its host. Tomato plants combat these enemies by producing toxins to deter or kill them. Scientists […]

Fusarium and aphid infestation increases mycotoxin levels in wheat

Fusarium langsethiae is a fungal pathogen of cereal crops such as wheat, oak and barley. F. langsethiae is a newly identified species and similarly to other Fusarium species, upon infection it produces mycotoxins; such as H2 and T-2 that are known to poses significant threat to mammals. F. langsethiae has been an increasing problem in […]

Rhizopus infections kill several immunocompromized patients in Pittsburgh

Shelby Slagle, a 27 years old heart transplant patient died last June in the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) from an opportunistic Rhizopus sp. Infection. In the 18 months preceding her death, two patients who had stayed in the same room as Slagle also died from similar infections, […]

Morels appear in patches after wildfires

As a Michigander, spring morel (Morchella) forages are a highly anticipated time of the year for this tasty fungus. Anecdotally, many foragers will consistently find this mushroom in great abundance one year after a wildfire. To document whether this common knowledge is correct, scientists documented the abundance and spatial variance of morels across a research […]

Fungi from the space station!

Aspergillus fumigatus is an opportunistic pathogen, which can cause disease in immunocompromised humans. Recently, a group of researchers analyzed strains that were isolated from the international space station. Would these strains be any different because they are exposed to the unique conditions of space? To find out, a number of test were carried out with […]

Candida auris, a multi-resistant yeast, has been confirmed in the US

NPR posted a piece on the emergence of a ‘new’ pathogenic yeast, Candida auris, appearing in United States hospitals. This yeast is harder to control than other Candida spp., mainly because it already has resistance to multiple anti-fungal medicines. The yeast was first discovered in Japan in 2009 and has since been detected in ten […]

Mycorrhizal interactions alter plant carbon dioxide fertilization effect

A recent (July 2016) Science Research Report was highlighted in the Imperial College London News discussing the effects of mycorrhizal associations within elevated CO2 environments upon plant biomass. Climate change has increased CO2 levels and currently plants are utilizing the elevated CO2 decreasing the effects creating a “CO2 fertilization effect”, however when looking to future […]

Current Fungal Biology – Invasive fungi destroys native trees in Hawaii

Zebra mussels, asian carp, purple loostrife, spotted knapweed. These are some of the organisms that come to mind when we think of the term ‘invasive species.’ In Hawaii, its time to add the name Ceratocystis fimbriata to that list. C. fimbriata is the cause of rapid ōhi’a death (ROD) that is spreading quickly through Hawaii’s big […]

Hallucinogenic Lichen in the Amazon

Many fungal groups famously produce psychoactive compounds. Most of these are prominent because they are dangerous to humans, such as are the ascomycete family Clavicipitaceae and several basidiomycete genera including Amanita, Leptiota, and Cortinarius. Many mushrooms are also notable for producing psychedelic compounds, however hallucinogenic lichens are very rare. Harvard researchers E. Wade Davis and […]

Current Fungal Biology – Update: A light at the end of the (bat) cave?

We recently reported on the growing issue of White-nose Syndrome (WNS) in bats caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans. WNS has been shown to affect the hibernation cycles of many bat species including the little bronw bat (Figure 1) and in many cases, leads to impairment or death. Currently, no full blown cure has been reported; though today we […]

Honey Can Potentially Destroy Fusarium Biofilms

Scientists have been studying different approaches in order to fight pathogens in humans, animals and plants. One such pathogen is the fungi Fusarium, which can cause blindness and even death in humans as well as being a very destructive pathogen on plants and animals. Throughout history honey has been known to be a wound-healing agent. […]

Current Fungal Biology – dsRNA as a new class of fungicide?

In order to feed the growing population in the years to come, a number of challenges for plant production will have to be overcome. One persistent challenge that has been approached from a number of avenues over the last 100 or so years may have just found new life: protection of plants from fungal diseases. […]

Pseudogymnoascus destructans is taking a toll on native Michigan bat species

Michigan Radio(local NPR) had a piece on air last week about the decline in bat populations due to a particularly nasty fungus and wind turbines entitled “Michigan bat population shrinks as fungus and wind turbines take a toll” (We’ll just address the fungus). According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, more than a million […]

Fungi as Banana Pathogens

Many of us like to consume bananas on a daily basis as dessert, flavoring or a healthy snack. However, over the last century bananas have had many disease issues stemming from fungal infections, which have altered the variety of bananas we consume in grocery stores. Recently Science Alert highlighted that the banana industry could be […]

3-year old dies of Amanita poisoning in Canada

Tragically, a three-year-old boy from Victoria, Canada died this Wednesday after eating a poisonous mushroom, the Amanita phalloides. This mushroom kills more people than any other mushroom worldwide, but this is the first reported death in British Colombia. The toxin, called amatoxin, is not destroyed by cooking and one cap can be enough to kill […]

Surprising fungal diversity in Arctic driftwood

As a child, I would play with driftwood on the shores of Lake Superior building my own kingdoms and domains, however I did not realize the potential worlds existing within each of those logs I tossed around like toys. This summer a study was published explaining the rich diversity of fungi found within Arctic driftwood […]

Citizen science and the evolution of wood rotting fungi

Heilmann-Clausen, J., Maruyama, P. K., Bruun, H. H., Dimitrov, D., Laessøe, T., Frøslev, T. G., and Dalsgaard, B. 2016. Citizen science data reveal ecological, historical and evolutionary factors shaping interactions between woody hosts and wood-inhabiting fungi. New Phytol. Data from the Danish fungal atlas database, which was collected by citizen scientists, was used to examine […]

Fungi in the news: How fungi kill millions globally

A CNN article by Susie East aimed to spread awareness of four fatal fungi genera: Cryptococcus, Candida, Aspergillus, and Pneumocystis. According to the article and one source, approximately 1.5 million people a year are killed from infections by fungal organisms, with 90% stemming from the four genera listed above. The article also states that Aspergillus infections are […]

“Basidiomycete yeasts in cortex of ascomycete macrolichens”

A new partner in lichen symbiosis was reported in the July issue of Science. This paper challenges the age old assumption that a lichen is made up of one ascomycete fungus and one photobiont partner. Here authors report they found a basidiomycete yeasts present in 52 different lichen genera on six continents. They discovered this […]

“Basidiomycete yeasts in cortex of ascomycete macrolichens”

A new partner in lichen symbiosis was reported in the July issue of Science. This paper challenges the age old assumption that a lichen is made up of one ascomycete fungus and one photobiont partner. Here authors report they found a basidiomycete yeasts present in 52 different lichen genera on six continents. They discovered this […]