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Thread: Fungi

  1. #201
    Scientists use mushroom DNA to produce permanently-glowing plants

    While bioluminescent mushrooms certainly are fascinating, getting the things to grow in your home or garden can be challenging. Thanks to a new study, however, it may soon be possible to buy glowing versions of otherwise-conventional easily grown plants.

    The research is being carried out mainly via a collaboration between Moscow-based biotech startup Planta, the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences, MRC (Medical Research Council) London Institute of Medical Sciences, and the Institute of Science and Technology Austria.

    Building upon a new understanding of the manner in which bioluminescent mushrooms are able to sustain their glow, the scientists started by extracting DNA from those mushrooms, and inserting it into tobacco plants. Although the process should reportedly work on a wide variety of other plants, tobacco was chosen because it grows rapidly and is genetically simple.

    The resulting genetically manipulated tobacco plants were found to continuously emit visible green light from their stems, roots, leaves and flowers, throughout all phases of their growth. And while we have previously seen temporarily glowing plants that incorporated enzymes obtained from fireflies, the mushroom-DNA plants are reportedly 10 times brighter, and they glow consistently.

    The glowing action comes thanks to a molecule known as caffeic acid, which occurs both in bioluminescent mushrooms and in the lignin that makes up much of the cell walls of plants. In the mushrooms, two enzymes convert the acid into a luminescent molecule called luciferin, which is then oxidized by a third enzyme, producing a photon (light particle). Finally, a fourth enzyme converts the oxidized molecule back to caffeic acid, so the whole process can begin again.

    Putting it very basically, the addition of the mushroom DNA to the tobacco plants allows them to do the same thing with their caffeic acid. In fact, the intensity of the glow given off by the plants mirrors metabolic processes taking place within them. For instance, younger parts of the plants, along with their flowers, are particularly bright. Additionally, if a ripe banana skin is placed near the plants, their glow will increase due to the ethylene growth hormone being emitted by that skin.

    Working with Planta, biotech company Light Bio is now working on commercializing the technology, with plans to ultimately offer a range of glowing houseplants.

  2. #202
    Fungi’s Lessons for Adapting to Life on a Damaged Planet

    Merlin Sheldrake’s new book Entangled Life looks at the complex world of fungi, its adaptive ability, and its interconnectedness with all other forms of life. He spoke with Robert Macfarlane, author of Underland, about his relationship to fungi and its strategic lessons on growth in the face of climate crisis.

    Entangled Life is a book about fungi, most of which live their lives as branching, fusing networks of tubular cells known as mycelium. Mycelium is how fungi feed. Animals tend to find food in the world and put it in their bodies; fungi put their bodies in the food. To do so, they must ceaselessly remodel themselves, weaving their bodies into relation with their surroundings. This entanglement—with themselves, with their physical surroundings, and with other organisms—is their staple mode of existence. On a very literal level, then, I use the word entangle to refer to the ancient growth habit of this little-understood kingdom of life.

  3. #203
    Mushroom supplies coming slowly back on

    Even with a notice from the Avondale, PA-based American Mushroom Institute warning of tight availability on mushrooms for the next six to 10 weeks, one grower says it’s slowly building its inventory back up to try and keep ahead of the demand.

    Last week, Rachel Roberts, president of the Institute said that some retailers are facing shortages thanks to the fall out of COVID-19.

    However, in Fillmore, UT, Brenda Barney of Mountain View Mushrooms says it has good supplies of mushrooms right now. “So far, we’re still ahead of demand for mushrooms. We have plenty, however I have had a couple of farms call me looking for product,” says Barney.

    Barney notes that she hasn’t seen any changes on pricing of mushrooms. “We haven’t had any price increases so far, we’re just playing it by ear,” she says.

  4. #204
    Bizarre new species discovered... on Twitter

    While many of us use social media to be tickled silly by cat videos or wowed by delectable cakes, others use them to discover new species. Included in the latter group are researchers from the University of Copenhagen's Natural History Museum of Denmark. Indeed, they just found a new type of parasitic fungus via Twitter.

  5. #205
    Dalmatian truffle a step towards EU protection

    Dalmatia is a step towards becoming known in Europe as a black truffle region. Zadar truffle maker Ivan Matak reveals for Radio Zadar that, in cooperation with the University of Zadar, the process of obtaining the Protected Geographical Indication in the European Union is at an advanced stage.

    - Our truffles are fragrant, last longer, are darker inside, with these words the Dalmatian black truffle is described by the Zadar truffle maker Ivan Matak, who is working with the University of Zadar on its promotion.

    - It has been professionally proven that analyzes have been done in Italy in three different laboratories and we will produce a truffle that grows only in Dalmatia. He may be traced in some other regions, maybe a little in Istria, but I know that Dalmatia is number one, says Matak for Radio Zadar.

    Truffle, which until now was mainly associated with Istria, could soon become a Dalmatian brand, and Matak assures that most of Croatia is rich in truffles.

  6. #206

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