Fungi and conservation in the USA

This 2016 video says about itself:

You might see some of these 11 bizarre and creepy looking fungi around the world; here are what they’re called and if they are edible.

6. The Bitter Oyster Mushroom. This mushroom is found in the local regions of North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia where it grows in clusters located mostly on oak, birch, and beech trees. Bitter oysters happen to be one of the manly bioluminescent mushrooms that exist and it’s only the eastern North American strain that is able to glow, unlike the Pacific strain. It’s thanks to this species of mushroom that the term foxfire was coined by the early settlers. Fun fact: This mushroom is classified as being bioremediation as it has the power to absorb the toxins from environmental pollutants and is able to break down lignin.

5. Stemonitis fusca. This is a species of slime mold that isn’t actually a fungus, however, it was at one point classified in the same kingdom. Sometimes they’re still grouped together as a means of convenience. These eukaryotic organisms are able to live as single cells but combine into multicellular reproductive structures. This type of slime mold can be found in small groups forming on dead wood. It’s recognized by its slender stalks that hold up the sporangia that only grows to a height of around 6 to 20 millimeters tall. There’s over 900 documented species of slime mold that exist all over the world.

4. The Blue Milk Mushroom. The more common name for this edible mushroom is the indigo milk cap and it can be found in several different areas of the world including East Asia, Central America, and eastern North America, which is why they’re most often found in Chinese, Mexican, and Guatemalan food dishes. When the mushroom is cut open or broken it leaks an indigo milk or as it’s referred to “latex” and the mushroom begins to change into a green color once exposed to oxygen. This species of mushroom is definitely considered to be one of the most beautiful, yet, weird species in the world.

3. The False Morel Mushroom. Also known as the brain mushroom and you can see why the false morel will definitely prove to be fatal if ingested raw and not properly prepared. A good number of people have died. False morels are actually considered as a famous delicacy in areas such as Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and in the regions of the Great Lakes of North America. In certain places in the world, it’s illegal to sell, in others, it must come with a warning label. The safety of its consumption has been recently brought into question as it’s been noted that even if properly prepared, toxins in the mushroom can still remain and quite a number of people have developed acute toxicity. So, there could very well be some long-term health effects related to this mushroom.

2. The Bleeding Tooth Fungus. Hydnellum peckii is an interesting looking inedible mushroom that is definitely not something you want to try and eat. What you see in the following photo is a young bleeding tooth fungus that is secreting a red liquid. It’s not blood or anything, even though it does resemble it. It’s really just a liquid that is filled with anticoagulant properties. That means it’s capable of preventing blood clots. When the fungus ages it turns brown and looks unrecognizable compared to its youth. They’re most common in North America but are also found in other parts of the world.

1. The Amanita muscaria. More commonly referred to as the fly agaric, this mushroom is very famous for its psychoactive properties. Not only that, but this mushroom is also considered to be highly poisonous, that is, if it’s eaten raw and not properly detoxified first. Careful, though, there’s no antidote but there are several methods as far as treatment goes. Under several different laws and ordinances, the Amanita muscaria is illegal in The United Kingdom, Australia, and The Netherlands. This fungus also happens to be quite famous in pop culture what with being featured in the Super Mario Bros. franchise and in the Alice in Wonderland book to name a few.

From Washington State University in the USA:

Fungi may help restore native plant populations

Symbiotic relationship helps stabilize soil, conserve water, provide habitat

May 14, 2018

Transplanting fungi to restore native plant populations in the Midwest and Northwest is the focus of efforts by a team of WSU Tri-Cities researchers.

Mycorrhizal fungi form a symbiotic relationship with many plant roots, which helps stabilize the soil, conserve water and provides a habitat for many birds and insects, said Tanya Cheeke, assistant professor of biology. Some native plant species are more dependent on mycorrhizal fungi than invasive plant species. So, when that fungi is disturbed, native plants may not be able to compete as well with invasive species, disrupting the natural ecosystem of the environment and inhibiting many natural processes, she said.

Inoculate seedlings with microbes

“One way to improve native plant survival and growth in disturbed environments may be to inoculate seedlings with native soil microbes, which are then transplanted into a restoration site”, Cheeke said. “We’ve been doing prairie restoration in Kansas for the past two years. Now, we’re also doing something similar in the Palouse area in Washington.”

Cheeke is working with a team of undergraduate and graduate students to complete the research. A group of her undergraduate students recently presented their project during the WSU Tri-Cities Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition. Those students include Catalina Yepez, Jasmine Gonzales, Megan Brauner and Bryndalyn Corey.

The undergraduate team spent the past semester analyzing the spread of fungi from an inoculated soil environment in Kansas to see how far the fungi had spread into a restoration area. One year after planting, soil samples were collected at 0.5 meter, 1 meter, 1.5 meters, and 2 meters from the site of the inoculation in each plot. The samples were then tested for the presence of fungal DNA to see if the inoculated mycorrhizal species had reached the various distances from the inoculation points.

“The results will be used to inform ecological restoration efforts aimed at improving the survival and growth of native plants in disturbed ecosystems,” undergraduate student Megan Brauner said.

Disturbed vs. pristine environments

Cheeke said they also are looking at how microbes change across gradients of disturbed environments compared to pristine environments.

“We want to determine the microbes that are present in pristine environments, but are missing from disturbed sites,” she said.

Eventually, Cheeke said they would like to develop soil restoration strategies that other people can implement in their own environments.

4 thoughts on “Fungi and conservation in the USA

  1. Pingback: Top 10 newly discovered species for 2018 | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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  3. Pingback: North American fungi, new checklist | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Australian bettongs and fungi | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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