Why do some mushrooms glow in the dark?

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

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

Staff Report

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

Morning photo: Best of 2014

Winter to spring …

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Sky drama in the heart of winter, looking over Dillon Reservoir toward the Continental Divide.

FRISCO — Some spectacular scenes in the Colorado high country this year, with copious winter snows, stunning wave cloud sunsets and a wonderful summer monsoon, wildflower and mushroom season. Here are some of our favorite shots from the first few months of the year, covering deep winter to the first signs of spring in May. Follow our Instagram feed for daily updates, and visit the online Summit Voice gallery at Fine Art America to see more Summit County nature and landscape images. Continue reading

Unlocking the secrets of truffle aroma

Scientists say soil microbes key to fungi’s distinctive aroma

An Oregon white truffle, courtesy Oregon State University

An Oregon white truffle, courtesy Oregon State University

Staff Report

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

Morning photo: Flower power!

Fresh blooms …

Tundra wildflowers, Loveland Pass, Colorado.

Tundra wildflowers, Loveland Pass, Colorado.

FRISCO — It’s that sweet time of year when high country wildflower start to go nuts, I’ve never seen as many tall blue penstemon as in the past few days, which makes me realize that the flowers have their own cycles and rhythms that we can’t begin to understand yet. So on Tuesday morning, I ventured up to the Shrine Pass area to have a look, but the bulk of the blooming is still ahead. Still, using back-lighting, careful composition and the iPone camera’s HDR option, I was able to scare up a couple of decent shots. Continue reading

Morning photo: Cloud 9

Vaporous …

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Collapsing thunderstorm.

FRISCO — Clouds. We often take them for granted, or see them as a nuisance if we’re in the mood for a bright, sunny day, but clouds are, of course, an essential part of the cycle of life on this planet, transporting water vapor throughout the atmosphere, distributing moisture and affecting climate in ways we are just beginning to understand. For a photographer, clouds are often the perfect foil for landscape shots, helping to soften the light and add drama to what otherwise might just be a blank space. Even if you’re not a photographer, take some time one of these days to check out what’s going on in the sky above you. Visit our online gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County landscape and nature shots.

Continue reading

Morning photo: It’s not that the colors aren’t there

“It’s just imagination they lack …”

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Spheres.

FRISCO — With apologies and gratitude to Paul Simon, some photo whimsy after a long day of writing, looking for the crispest black and white images that also tell a story of seasons in Colorado. Continue reading

Morning photo: Black & white IV

A simple set …

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Strong contrasts in the early morning light.

FRISCO — Do you ever dream in black and white? I do, and sometimes, those dreams look like this … Continue reading

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