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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

  7. #207
    Unsold truffles tell tale of broken $3.4 trillion food chain

    "What you sell into restaurants is different to what you sell into grocers -- there are premium cuts, there are expensive lobsters and all of that," said Nicholas Fereday, a consumer goods senior analyst at Rabobank in New York. "Finding markets for that will be a challenge in the same volume, because it's going to be a gradual return to restaurants."

  8. #208
    Corona continues to influence the market

    How this year's season will develop is difficult to predict, says Zwicknagl. This is because wild mushrooms are extremely weather-dependent and the weather in the Eastern European collecting areas has been very changeable and unpredictable in recent years. "Last year we were able to offer chanterelles well into November. Porcini mushrooms were even available until Christmas."

    Instead of climate change, this year's wild mushroom campaign is heavily influenced by the Corona pandemic. "Currently, our prices are already 20-30 percent higher than last year. I hope that the prices will go down quickly. In any case, the decisive factor will be how border controls in Eastern Europe will develop, which will affect the possible additional costs of transport to Germany. All this is still uncertain at the moment", Mrs Zwicknagl says.

  9. #209
    Mushroom farmers riding an "ugly dragon" as pandemic hits supply chain

    Mushroom farmers in Alberta have been redirecting their food to grocery stores and food banks while the pandemic kept restaurants closed, but the industry has lost millions of dollars.

    Restaurants, arenas, hotels and pizza places account for some 30 to 50 per cent of the mushrooms picked and sold in Canada. The mushroom industry took a corresponding 30- to 50-per-cent loss when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of many of those businesses.

    “The majority of what we sell gets picked, packed and shipped within the same day ... there is no ability to weather challenging times and difficult storms by building inventory,” Hamer said.

    “There's no ability that we have to delay crops or impact crop timing, to try and better match supply and demand. We are growing 365 days a year and we're always harvesting – and that makes it challenging.”

    Jim Vercammen, a food supply economist with the University of British Columbia, said mushrooms can't be stored and there are not a lot of diverse markets out there for the products.

    “You can't really process mushrooms,” he said, and it can be tough to pivot quickly toward canning the product. However, he said their short growing time means the industry can respond a little quicker to market demand than a crop that takes six months to grow.

    Highline Mushrooms adapted quickly, redirecting products that would have gone to restaurants into grocery stores instead in an effort to meet the increased retail demand from consumers.

    “As people are getting less of their food outside the home and are cooking more ... the demand for mushrooms at grocery stores increased substantially,” Hamer said.

    But grocery stores require a different kind of packing, and typically consumers purchase 227-gram or 454-gram containers. Hamer and his team had to turn on a dime and switch from packaging much of their product in 10-pound boxes to packaging mushrooms in much smaller containers.

  10. #210
    Chinese canned mushrooms shipments to Europe up in first four months

    For the January to April period this year, Chinese canned mushroom volumes to the EU-28 market increased by 45% year-on-year.

  11. #211
    Inside the Wonderfully Weird — and Growing — Retail World of Mushrooms

    Isokauppila finds that Covid-19 has launched the burgeoning mushroom fixation into hyperspeed, with droves of consumers either developing or heightening their interest in long-term immunity support.

    Joseph is enthusiastically optimistic about a mushroom-laden future, expecting them to soon sprout into "every aspect of our way of life."

    Walters, the WGSN trend-spotter, looks at the toadstools from a narrower retail perspective: Still relatively niche within apparel, she anticipates a surge in the mushroom motif to appear via calming botanical illustrations or trippy, hyper-real photo-prints. Mushrooms may even affect our behavior.

    "With far-flung travel off the cards for the foreseeable future, consumers are actively seeking a sense of rural escapism for their staycations," writes Walters. Indeed, camping, RV and road trip essentials are seeing double- and triple-digit growth in sales, according to Kampgrounds of America's 2020 North American Camping Report. "Getting back to nature, or 're-wilding' is driving this renewed interest in natural, shroom-y visuals."

  12. #212
    Billionaires Back Tiny Fungi to Slash Cost of Capturing Carbon

    High-profile investors including Chris Sacca and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes have backed an Australian project that seeks to slash the costs of sucking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by using microscopic fungi.

    As the world seeks ways to combat emissions of the climate-changing gas, Soil Carbon is looking to scale up its technology to convert carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to enrich agricultural land. It hopes to do so at a far lower cost than competing technologies and attract corporations looking to buy carbon credits, providing an additional incentive to farmers.

    Soil Carbon “is urging companies and CEOs to help scale the project and drive the growth of this new market by committing to buy carbon credits,” it said in the statement.

    The company is aiming for a per-ton cost of CO2 capture below $20, compared with about $100 it said the majority of other technologies are predicted to reach.

    Soil Carbon says its technology has the double benefit of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide while at the same time enriching agricultural soil quality impacted by modern intensive farming techniques. Trials for the product will continue for the next 18-24 months, with a commercial launch expected after that, Guy Hudson, the company’s co-founder, said in a telephone interview.

    The project will use fungi and bacteria to suck CO2 from the air to bolster soil fertility. The process involves minimal extra work for the farmer, being easily applied as a seed treatment or a granule in the field that will grow out to become an extension of the root system of the crop and function alongside it.

  13. #213
    Mushroom Market rising to a valuation of US$69,267.9 by 2024

    According to a recent report by Transparency Market Research, the global mushroom market is likely to project a steady CAGR of 8.2% within the forecast period from 2016 to 2024. In 2016, the market was valued nearby worth US$36,825.4 of US$69,267.9 by the end of forecast period.

  14. #214
    Using Chanterelle Mushrooms as a Taste Enhancer

    A research team in Germany has developed a new ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry method for quality control of chanterelle mushrooms

    Chanterelles (Cantharellus cibarius) are one of the most popular mushrooms in Germany. Depending on the weather, chanterelle season starts in early July. Connoisseurs value the mushroom's delicate fruity aroma, which is reminiscent of apricots, and its aromatic and slightly bitter taste profile. Not only do chanterelles have a unique flavor profile, they also function as taste enhancers, lending dishes a well-rounded mouthfeel and a lingering, rich flavor.

    Key substances for the kokumi sensation

    "Using the ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry method developed by our team, we are now the first to accurately quantify the key substances in chanterelles that are responsible for the kokumi effect," says Dr. Verena Mittermeier from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) Chair of Food Chemistry and Molecular Sensory Science. Mittermeier already contributed significantly to the study during her time as a PhD student under professor Thomas Hofmann, who now serves as the president of TUM.

    As the research team's findings show, the effect is caused by natural substances derived from fatty acids. Storage conditions, such as duration of storage and temperature, affect the composition and concentration of these fatty acid derivatives in the mushrooms. Whether the mushrooms are stored whole or chopped also plays a role.

    New quality control marker

    According to food chemist Andreas Dunkel from the Leibniz-Institute for Food Systems Biology at TUM, some of these derivatives are specific to chanterelles and can therefore be used as markers to control the quality of mushroom products. These findings could also be used to systematically improve the flavor profile of mushroom dishes or other savory dishes using natural substances.

    "Kokumi is a Japanese word that does not refer to a specific flavor quality such as salty or sweet," Dunkel explains. Instead, the fatty acid derivatives modulate the sensory characteristics of other ingredients.

  15. #215
    Demand for mushrooms is much lower compared to previous years

    The mushroom sector in Poland is still dealing with the effects of the pandemic. Due to restaurants and other businesses in tourism being closed, demand is extremely low compared to a normal season. Demand is in fact so low, that some days a large chunk of the produce has to be thrown away.

    “Currently, we can see an overproduction of mushrooms in Poland. Meanwhile, the demand for mushroom is much lower in comparison to previous years. It’s due to the general situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The demand comes mainly from customers that have their markets outside of the gastronomy and tourist businesses, and still manage to function to some extent. We’ve observed a significant drop in orders coming from our customers.”

  16. #216

  17. #217
    Matsutake make IUCN red list as threatened for the first time

    Matsutake mushrooms, which like truffles are highly prized for their delicate taste and scarcity, were designated as a threatened species for the first time by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

    Although no restrictions are immediately planned on the consumption of matsutake, there will be probably fewer opportunities to consume the fungal treat this autumn due to the need to protect it.

    The IUCN announced inclusion of the fungus in the organization's latest red list of threatened species on July 9.

  18. #218

  19. #219
    Fungi from Chernobyl blast zone could protect astronauts from radiation

    But strains of fungi are flourishing at the scene by absorbing radioactive energy for their own use.

    Amazingly, researchers sent a sample variety of radioactive fungus found at Chernobyl – Cladosporium sphaerospermum – to the International Space Station for testing.

    It was monitored in a petri dish for 30 days and was found to reduce radiation by about 2 per cent compared to a non radioactive sample.

    This alone isn’t enough to shield humans from radiation. But the experts predict a 21cm thick layer of this fungus could ‘largely negate the annual dose-equivalent of the radiation environment on the surface of Mars.’

  20. #220
    Mushroom misconceptions: There's fact, fiction, and great flavour to be found

    There are obviously plenty of misconceptions and misinformation about wild mushrooms, so I reached out to Sarah Jenkins, board member of the mushroom aficionado group Foray Newfoundland and Labrador, and editor of the newsletter Omphalina, to determine the facts about fungi and clear up the fictions.

    Fiction #1: Mushrooms are plants
    Fiction #2: Mushrooms are vegetables
    Fiction #3: If humans don't pick them, they'll be wasted
    Fiction #4: The chanterelle is Newfoundland's only edible mushroom

    Fact #1: Using Facebook to identify edible mushrooms is a terrible idea
    Fact #2: Newfoundland has its own mushroom
    Fact #3: Mushroom hunting can be a team activity
    Fact #4: Blabbing about a mushroom patch is a no-no

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