Posted on April 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A mushroom and spruce seedling grow intertwined in a Colorado forest. Bob Berwyn photo.
In some forests, up to 70 percent of carbon sequestration happens deep underground
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Humble mushrooms may play a much greater role in regulating forest carbon cycles than previously understood, according to new research from Sweden.
Most scientific literature suggests that the plant matter in northern forests is responsible for sequestering atmospheric carbon, but after carefully analyzing numerous soil samples, the Swedish scientists concluded that mycorrhizal fungi, which live in association with plant roots, are trapping the carbon deep in the ground as part of the process of nutrient exchange between the fungi and plant species. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, forests, global warming, Uncategorized | Tagged: carbon cycle, carbon sequestration, climate, forests, fungi, global warming | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A break from winter
A parasol mushroom growing in a forest in Upper Austria. This is a variety I’ve not yet found in Colorado, though the guidebooks say a similar species does grow in the U.S.
FRISCO — After writing a story about the importance of biodiversity, I went back to a folder from last July to look over the mushroom images I shot during a few forest visits in Austria. The biodiversity story got me thinking about how some of the mushrooms I found in Europe were completely different from anything I’ve ever seen in the West, while a few other species were almost identical. Why is it that some species are common on both sides of the Atlantic, while others are more specialized to either the Rockies or the forests of Central Europe? I’m not really sure, but I think it has something to do with the plant communities. Since some fungi are in specialized symbiotic relationships with certain species of shrubs and trees, they may not be able to grow if those plants are present. Maintaining healthy forests requires making sure that all the constituent elements of the ecosystem are there, and in Colorado, we know so little about the fungi that are a key part of the ecology that we may just be stumbling in the dark. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, Morning photo, mushrooms and fungi, photography | Tagged: Colorado, forests, fungi, mushrooms, photography, Travel | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 20, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Mushrooms are popping!
Mid-day sun backlights the gill of this wild Colorado mushroom. In this iPhone shot, I also used an Instagram filter to enhance the colors.
SUMMIT COUNTY — Tis the season — for fungi, that is, as monsoon moisture has help spur a good crop of wild forest mushrooms. While some people see them as the equivalent of low-life slugs, mushrooms are actually a vital and little understood component of forest ecosystems. Along with helping to break down dead leaves, grass and branches, the underground part of the fungal organisms interact with the roots of trees and other plants, helping to foster a nutrient cycle and maintaining a chemical balance in the forest floor. (more…)
Filed under: Austria, Colorado, Europe, Morning photo, photography, Travel | Tagged: Austria, Colorado, fungi, iPhoneography, mobile photography, mushrooms, photography | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 15, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
“Even metals can be subject to microbial colonization and attack.”
Some fungi have the ability to convert lead into its most stable mineral form.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —While mycoremediation is already frequently used to tackle certain types of contamination, the discovery that certain fungi can convert lead into its most stable mineral form could widen the scope of such cleanups.
“Lead is usually regarded as a pretty stable substance,” said Geoffrey Gadd of the University of Dundee. “The idea that fungi and other microbes may attack it and change its form is quite unexpected.”
The research suggests that this interaction between fungi and lead may be occurring in nature anywhere the two are found together, so scientists are now considering whether the introduction of fungi could be a useful treatment strategy for lead-polluted sites. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, mushrooms and fungi, Summit County news | Tagged: Environment, fungi, Lead, mushrooms, mycoremediation, University of Dundee | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 8, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
The Forest Service is starting a major new fungal genome sequencing research project.
International effort will help catalog an unsung group of organisms
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — With grant funding from the Department of Energy, researchers with the U.S. Forest Service and other institutions say they’re ready to start sequencing 1,000 fungal genomes.
The five-year project is part of an effort to learn more about unsung organisms that are key to everything from carbon cycling to production of life-saving drugs, including old-fashioned wonder drugs such as penicillin — as well as best sellers such as the cholesterol-lowering statins and the immunosuppresant ciclosporins, which make organ transplants possible. Fungi are also used in various myco-remediation projects and, in some cases, for preventive forest health treatments.
Dan Lindner, a research plant pathologist with the Northern Research Station’s Center for Forest Mycology Research, is one of 13 scientists participating in the ’1000 Fungal Genomes’ project, which will sequence two species from every known fungal family. The project is a first step in creating an encyclopedia of all fungi, which will one day help researchers understand not only what they do, but how fungi operate. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, forests, Summit County news, US Forest Service | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, fungal genome sequencing, fungi, Joint Genome Institute, Oregon State University, Summit County News | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 8, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
New research suggests forests could become susceptible to destructive fungi as the world's climate warms.
Permian forest extinction offers clues to current climate change impacts
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A warming climate has already been implicated in the rapid expansion of bark beetles that have killed millions of acres of western forests. The beetles transmit a fungus that causes the blueish stain seen in the cut stems of dead lodgepoles. While the beetles damage the trees, the fungus delivers the death blow.
New research suggests that destructive fungi could further destabilize forest ecosystems in a warming world. The researchers cautioned that that today’s changing climate could also lead to increased activity of pathogenic soil microbes that could accelerate the death of trees already stressed by higher temperatures and drought.
“Pathogenic fungi are important elements of all forest ecosystems,” said Henk Visscher ,of the Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “When an entire forest becomes weakened by environmental stress factors, onslaught of damaging fungal diseases can result in large-scale tissue death and tree mortality.” (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forests, global warming, Summit County news | Tagged: Environment, Forest health, forests, fungi, Geological Society of America, global warming, Pangaea, Permian, Rhizoctonia, Summit County News | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 13, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
A pair of fine Agaricus found July 12 growing in pine litter under a lodgepole near Dillon Reservoir in Frisco, Colorado.
SUMMIT COUNTY — An early onset of monsoon rains and moderate temperatures has helped spur an early crop of wild mushrooms in the high country. Much to my surprise, I found these fine agaricus growing under some pines near Frisco. Recognizable by their pink gills (turning brown at maturity) and brown spore print, these fungi are closely related to Agaricus bisporus — the common button mushroom found in grocery stores. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, Colorado mushrooms, Colorado Mycological Society, fungi, fungi colorado, mushrooms, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 4, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
The classic mushrooms in the Colorado high country.
SUMMIT COUNTY — A couple of things happened today that inspired me to revisit the mushroom files. First, I had renewed correspondence with Stan Wagon, a Summit Voice contributor and reader who has written about mushrooms, arch hunting in Colorado, backcountry skiing in the La Sals and most recently about his experiences as a competitor in the the Breckenridge snow sculpture contest. Read his latest offering here.
Then, I was watching a Planet Earth segment on the rainforest, which included a short segment on jungle fungi and the key role they play in forest ecology. That holds true here in Summit County, too, and even though I haven’t managed to identify each and every specimen I found and photographed, I spent enough time on my hands and knees to realize that each species fills a very special ecosystem nook. It’s really like a microcosm of the global ecoystem — every species has its place and function, even if we don’t know, or fully understand what that is. Every time we lose one, we lose part of what makes us whole. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, forests, Morning photo, mushrooms and fungi, photography, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado mushrooms, forests, fungi, mushrooms, nature, photography, Summit County photography | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 7, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
An early botanical illustration of species of liverworts, among the most ancient of land plants.
Partnership with fungi helped early plants absorb carbon from the atmosphere
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Fungi probably played a key role early in the history of life on Earth, helping plants to colonize land areas more than 470 million year ago.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield (England) studied a thalloid liverwort plant, a member of the most ancient group of land plants that still exists and still shares many of the original features of its ancestors. They simulated a CO2-rich atmosphere similar to that of the Palaeozoic era when these plants originated. This environment significantly amplified the benefits of the fungi for the plant’s growth, favoring the early formation of the association between the plant and its fungal partner. The research was published Nov. 2 in Nature Communications. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: botany, early plants, Environment, evolution, fungi, Paleozoic era, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, University of Sheffield | Leave a Comment »