Fungus

Frogs Get Their Shots: Vaccination May Curb Lethal Fungus

Publication: NBC News   Date: July 9, 2014   View Article

Around the world, the rapid spread of a pathogenic fungus has sent frogs and other amphibians hopping toward extinction. Hope for their survival may come in the form of vaccination programs similar to those that protect humans from contagious diseases, according to a new study.

No, this doesn’t mean that newborn tadpoles will be paying a visit to the veterinarian for a round of shots, or that conservationists with mini-syringes will be mucking through rain forests in search of frogs. But the reality isn’t all that different.

Hundreds of amphibians already have been removed from habitats contaminated with the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which causes chytridiomycosis — the fungal disease implicated in the global amphibian decline. One route is to vaccinate these captive-bred amphibians, explained Jason Rohr, an ecologist at the University of South Florida and the study’s senior author.

Can fungi make violins sound like a Stradivarius?

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 11, 2012   View Article

Violin makers of the future may be able to match the sound quality of a Stradivarius thanks to a pair of fungi that get their nutrition from the wood used to make the instruments.

The Swiss researchers and violin makers behind the project explain that ideal wood for violin tone is low density, with a high speed of sound and a high modulus of elasticity, which is a measure of the wood’s resistance to strain.

Caterpillar Fungus Making Tibetan Herders Rich

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 27, 2011   View Article

Harvesting of a parasitic fungus that grows high on the Tibetan Plateau in China is infusing hordes of cash into rural communities, scientists say.

The fungus, Ophiocordyceps sinensis, takes over the bodies of caterpillar larvae then shoots up like finger-size blades of grass out of the dead insects’ heads.

Known as yartsa gunbu—or “summer grass winter worm”—by Chinese consumers, the nutty-tasting fungus is highly valued for its purported medicinal benefits, for instance, as a treatment for cancer and aging and as a libido booster. Far away in the booming cities of Beijing and Shanghai, demand for the fungus has soared.

Fungi, Feces Show Comet Didn’t Kill Ice Age Mammals?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 22, 2010   View Article

Tiny balls of fungus and feces may disprove the theory that a huge space rock exploded over North America about 12,900 years ago, triggering a thousand-year cold snap, according to a new study.

The ancient temperature drop, called the Younger Dryas, has been well documented in the geologic record, including soil and ice core samples.

The cool-down also coincides with the extinction of mammoths and other Ice Age mammals in North America, and it’s thought to have spurred our hunter-gatherer ancestors in the Middle East to adopt an agricultural lifestyle.

Fungus Puts the Heat in Chili Peppers, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 11, 2008   View Article

There’s a fungus among us chili fans—and some of the spicy peppers evolve their kick to repel it, a new study says.

Chili peppers develop piquant chemicals to thwart the harmful microbes long enough to give birds and other animals a chance to disperse the pepper seeds, helping the chilies to procreate, scientists found.

Eye Ointment Can Cure Frog Fungus

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 2, 2007   View Article

An antibiotic primarily used to treat pinkeye in humans rids frogs of the fungal disease that is wiping out amphibian populations around the world, a team of New Zealand scientists reports.

Infected frogs treated with the drug for two weeks were cured of the deadly disease, called chytridiomycosis or frog chytrid disease.

Army of Tiny Fungi Keeps Forests Healthy, Study Suggests

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 21, 2005   View Article

Communities of microscopic fungi that live inside trees might help protect their hosts from disease and predators, new research suggests.

These fungi, called endophytes, are found throughout various types of plants from the roots to the leaves. Many different endophyte species can live together in a single plant.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach