Posted on July 15, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Important mushroom species that help trees grow were wiped out by the mountain pine beetle epidemic, potentially leaving future forests more susceptible to renewed insect attacks. @bberwyn photo.
Widespread mushroom die-off dramatically lowers seedling survival rate
FRISCO — The recent pine beetle outbreak in western forests may have left the next generation of trees more vulnerable to future pests, Canadian researchers concluded in a new study that examined how the wave of tree deaths affected fungi that grow together with lodgepole pines.
Many trees, including lodgepoles, are partly dependent on certain fungi that enable a nutrient exchange at the cellular level. But the pine beetle outbreak was so widespread that many of the beneficial fungi disappeared. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forests, mushrooms and fungi, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: Forest health, forest regeneration, forests, fungi, mountain pine beetles, mushrooms | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 21, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
These are N. gardneri mushrooms growing on the base of a young babassu palm in Gilbués, PI, Brazil. Credit
Michele P. Verderane/IP-USP-2008.
New study examines bioluminescence in fungi
FRISCO — Dartmouth scientists say they’ve figured out why some mushroom species glow in the dark, and like with many other biological mysteries, the answer is both simple and complex at the same time.
Reporting their findings in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, the researchers said the light attracts the attention of beetles, flies, wasps, and ants who spread the spores, helping the fungi colonize new territory.
The study also shows that the mushrooms’ bioluminescence is under the control of the circadian clock. In fact, it was that discovery that led the researchers to suspect that the mushrooms’ light must serve some useful purpose. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment | Tagged: bioluminescence, Environment, fungi, mushrooms, nature | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 15, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Can mushrooms help save whitebark pines? Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Scientists report success in treating seedlings with mushroom spores
FRISCO — High-elevation whitebark pines are under the gun in the northern Rockies. White pine blister rust, an invasive fungus, and pine beetles have combined to drive the species toward extinction.
But scientists trying to recover the species say that a humble mushroom could help their efforts. A three-year experiment shows a 10 to 15 percent increase in the survival rate of whitebark pine seedlings when Siberian slippery jack spores are injected into the soil around them. The injection takes place in nurseries before the seedlings are transplanted in the mountains. Continue reading
Filed under: endangered species, Environment, Forest health, forests, Uncategorized | Tagged: Environment, Forest health, forests, fungi, pine beetles, whitebark pines | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 4, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Scientists say soil microbes key to fungi’s distinctive aroma
An Oregon white truffle, courtesy Oregon State University
FRISCO — Mushroom season may be over the Colorado high country, but in parts of Europe, it’s the peak of the truffle season, as hundreds of gourmets scour oak forests to find the fragrant buried fungi, often with the help of animals.
Now scientists say that the scent of the hidden edible treasures is largely produced not by the fungi itself, but by soil bacteria trapped inside truffle fruiting bodies, a discovery of interest not only to mycophiles, but to scientists speciazing in food flavors.
The study involved white truffles from the Piedmont region in Italy, which can cost up to 5,000 Euro per kilo (about $4,000 a pound), and black truffles from the Périgord region in Southern France. Particularly large specimens even fetch prices of up to 50,000 Euro per kilogram at auctions. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, mushrooms and fungi | Tagged: food, fungi, mushrooms, mycology, nature, Truffles | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 1, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
‘Shroom hunting in Colorado
Evening vista of the Tenmile Range, Summit County, Colorado.
FRISCO — Aug. 31 is a bit late for the peak of the mushroom season in Colorado, but after a stream of rainy days, we headed up high, near treeline, to search for fungi. In some of the moist, north-facing draws along the rough road into the Tenmile Range, we found a profusion of mushrooms, as many as 10 species in a square meter, including funky corals, puffballs and tasty wild agaricus, an edible variety closely related to grocery store mushrooms.
Seeing the mushrooms at peak season, bursting through a living tapestry of moss and lichen, makes me realize how big a part of the forest life force these humble fungi really are, locking carbon deep in the soil and helping the trees, old and young, absorb nutrients from the thin Rocky Mountain soil. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Morning photo, mushrooms and fungi, photography, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, fungi, mushrooms, photography, Rocky Mountains, Summit County, Tree line | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 20, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Prime time for Colorado fungi
Clavaria purpurea, purple coral mushroom growing in the Tenmile Range near Frisco, Colorado.
FRISCO — For a couple of weeks every summer I need to set aside extra time every few days to search for wild mushrooms. It’s not just the eating — I’m totally fascinated by the role fungi have in forest ecosystems, with some recent studies suggesting that they may be the key drivers of the forest carbon carbon cycle because of how they interact with plants to sequester carbon deep in forest soils. This morning, during a short walk in the Tenmile Range, I found one decaying section of a log, about two square feet, home to at least six species of fungi (that I could see), along with many more types of moss and lichen, all woven into a living, organic mat on the forest floor. And, as icing on the cake, I did find a couple of Boletus edulis, delicious edibles sought after around the world under various names, including porcini and cep. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Morning photo, photography, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, fungi, mushrooms, photography, Summit County mushrooms | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 29, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Yet another study shows how fungi may play a key role in regulating carbon.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — While most current climate research focuses on increasing levels of carbon dioxide, scientists in the UK recently studied long-past eras when CO2 levels were much lower, and discovered a biological mechanism that could explain how the Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate were stabilized over the past 24 million years.
When CO2 levels became too low for plants to grow properly, forests appear to have kept the climate in check by slowing down the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The report has been published in Biogeosciences, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union.
“As CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere fall, the Earth loses its greenhouse effect, which can lead to glacial conditions,” said lead-author Joe Quirk, with the University of Sheffield. “Over the last 24 million years, the geologic conditions were such that atmospheric CO2 could have fallen to very low levels … but it did not drop below a minimum concentration of about 180 to 200 parts per million. Why?” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: carbon dioxide, climate, fungi, global warming, greenhouse gases | Leave a comment »