Posts Tagged ‘fungus’

Nature Ramble

An excursion involving all of the senses

Bergh Apton, Norfolk The collection symbolised all that our own species has pondered, learned and felt about mushrooms for centuries

This collared earthstar was one of the prize finds at Bergh Apton community wood. Photograph: Mark Cocker

he difference between a fungus foray and most other forms of nature study is the gregariousness of it all. There were more than 20 of us, aged eight to 80, joking and laughing and clustered around our guide, who is himself like a rare treasured specimen. Tony Leech is an expert who contributes as much simple human joy to a group as he does knowledge.

Each person scoured the ground for a contribution to bring back to the central hub of discussion. Our guide then marshalled these converging tributaries of inquiry into a wider delta of mycological conversation. This one was a dryad saddle. There was a wood blewit, or parrot waxcap, a collared earthstar. I often stood simply to marvel at the poetry of mushroom nomenclature. Ponder awhile the wrinkled peach, the parasol, the lilac bonnet – and the dog stinkhorn.

It was an excursion involving all the senses. We lay on the ground to be on intimate terms with the tiny earthtongue or dead moll’s fingers, whose pencil-thin fruiting bodies poked up like death-blackened digits. We inhaled a deep whiff of ocean in a mushroom called crab brittlegill. Best of all, we stood in amazement at the crazy fecundity of fungi: a fruit body of the football-sized giant puffball can produce 6bn spores.

Eventually the whole afternoon of encounter was distilled to Tony Leech’s basket of specimens. Here were gathered all the toadstools that were beyond our collective ken, and whose identities can sometimes only be settled by examination of spores that are 1/200th of a millimetre. In a sense, that collection symbolised all that our own species has pondered, learned and felt about mushrooms for centuries.

Yet that same basket also summarised the unfathomable wonder of life on this planet: for it contained the stories of 100 different fungi, which had each travelled through time probably for millions of years to meet on that afternoon in that October sunshine.

Source: TheGuardian

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Nature Ramble

What man is doing by transporting animals around the world…

Newt flesh fungus ‘brought by pets’

The fungus causes skin lesions like those on the lips of this fire salamander

Zoologists say a skin-eating fungus threatens salamanders and newts across Europe, and probably arrived on pet amphibians imported from Asia.

It was discovered in the Netherlands in 2013 after wiping out all but 10 of the country’s fire salamanders.

Now tests show that the fungus causes deadly skin diseases in many related species, but not those from Asia.

The findings, published in Science, suggest that the fungus coexisted with Asian salamanders for 30 million years.

Researchers from Imperial College and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) collaborated on the study with teams in the Netherlands and Belgium.

The parasitic fungus, called Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans, is related to another fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) that causes a similar disease in frogs and other amphibians, mostly in the tropics.

According to the new study, the recently discovered “B. sal” does not affect frogs or toads but kills a wide variety of salamanders.

It rapidly invades and eats an animal’s skin, which is crucial to its survival because it helps it to breathe.

“Most of the salamander species that come into contact with this fungus die within weeks,” said lead author Prof An Martel from Ghent University, Belgium.

“There appear to be no real barriers that prevent the spread of the fungus throughout Europe.”

Source: BBCNews Read and see more

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