‘New’ fungus species threatens old Portuguese cathedral

This November 2017 video, in Portuguese, is about the old cathdral of Coimbra city.

From ScienceDaily:

New family of fungi threatens a UNESCO-listed 8-century-old cathedral in Portugal

January 28, 2019

Summary: A peculiar fungus was retrieved from an artwork in the Old Cathedral of Coimbra, Portugal during a multi-disciplinary scientific survey. The organism was found to belong to the group of microcolonial black fungi, which are infamous amongst conservationists and biologists who care for historic monuments. They cause significant biodeterioration to stone monuments due to their successful adaptation to hostile environmental conditions.

To be listed as UNESCO World Heritage requires special care and protection of valuable cultural monuments and pieces of art from threats such as biodeterioration caused by microcolonial black fungi. The culprits lodge their branch-like structures (hyphae) deep into the stone forming fissures and cracks and also produce polysaccharides that trigger corrosion.

These fungi are well known for their unique resistance to hostile environmental conditions, including extreme temperatures, high solar and UV radiation, severe droughts and low abundance of nutrients. As a result, they survive in hot and cold deserts, saltpans, acidic and hydrocarbon-contaminated sites and exposed rocks surfaces. All of this makes them a particular challenge to conservationists and biologists who care for historic monuments.

During a multi-disciplinary scientific survey at the 8-century-old cathedral Sé Velha de Coimbra (Old Cathedral of Coimbra), which is the only Romanesque cathedral in Portugal to have survived relatively intact since the Reconquista times, scientists retrieved a peculiar slow-growing microcolonial black fungus.

What João Trovão of the University of Coimbra (Portugal) and his colleagues were looking at turned out to be a species of a whole new family (Aeminiaceae) in the order of the sooty mould fungi. The new species, its new genus and the novel family are described in the open-access journal MycoKeys.

To define the new group of fungi, the researchers first scraped off samples from a deteriorated limestone artwork in the “Santa Maria” chapel and then conducted an extensive and integrative analysis, based on morphological, physiological, ecological characters and DNA sequences.

As for the origin of the previously unknown fungus, the scientists hypothesise that the species had ‘arrived’ at the Old Cathedral of Coimbra with the limestone used during its construction. Coming from the unique nearby areas of Ançã and Portunhos, such limestone has been used on several of the “Our Ladies of the O” statues, as well as in the portal of the Royal Hospital in Santiago de Compostela (Spain). Currently, these fungi are considered endemic to the limestone quarries in the Iberian Peninsula.

“Regarding stone monuments exposed to the environment, microcolonial black fungi are considered one of the main culprits for the phenomenon of stone biodeterioration, being responsible for severe aesthetic, biochemical and biophysical alterations,” comment the scientists.

“It is, therefore, crucial to gather deeper knowledge regarding their biodiversity and their biological, ecological and physiological unique characteristics, in order to span our knowledge regarding these fungi and, at the same time, allow the development and improvement of tools to protect stone monuments from their deteriorative effects.”


Oude Buisse Heide nature reserve, first day

This November 2015 Dutch video is about the nature reserve Oude Buisse Heide and the nature reserve Wallsteijn next to it.

Today, 21 January 2018, we traveled to the Oude Buisse Heide nature reserve in the Netherlands.

This area is property of conservation organisation Natuurmonumenten. It was transferred to them by famous Dutch socialist poetess Henriette Roland Holst.

Henriette Roland Holst

She wrote many of her poems at Oude Buisse Heide.

Atelier Oude Buisse Heide

In the atelier, built for her and her visual artist husband in 1918, by Margaret Staal-Kropholler, the first ever female architect in the Netherlands.

Margaret Staal-Kropholler

Here, she also wrote four poems in 1944, as the World War II front line was close to the Oude Buisse Heide. These four poems are in the poetry book De loop is bijna volbracht (The journey is almost finished).

Ms Roland Holst had helped the Dutch anti-nazi resistance, eg, writing anti-occupation poems and hiding fugitives from the German secret police at Oude Buisse Heide. She thought the nazis might soon come and kill her for that. She was already 74 years old, so she thought she might die soon anyway.

The last lines of the first poem in De loop is bijna volbracht are (my translation):

I want to stay a little while
in order to, in the dying light,
weave the spicy and sweet smells
and the fading colours
into a last poem.

These lines are about the beautiful nature of the Oude Buisse Heide.

As we arrived late in the afternoon, we saw and heard only a few sides of that beauty.

We did hear a nuthatch calling and other bird sounds. A carrion crow sat on a tree, then flew away.

Cranes, Sandwich terns, medieval church of Rügen island

This July 2011 video is about bad rainy weather in Jasmund national park near Lohme village on Rügen island in Germany.

After 10 October 2018 came 11 October for us on Rügen. The weather was pretty good then.

Many cranes had arrived from Scandinavia on their autumn migration.

Six cranes, 11 October 2018

This photo, from near Bobbin village, shows two adult couples with each one youngster (still no red on the head).

Cranes, 11 October 2018

Many cranes resting or flying over the fields near Bobbin. Some gray lag geese as well.

Cranes, Rügen

Baltic sea bay, 11 October 2018

We continued to a sheltered Baltic sea bay.

Great black-backed gulls, herring gulls, black-headed gulls and a mallard on a causeway.

Two Sandwich terns flying past.

Churchyard, 11 October 2018

We continued to an old churchyard.

It is the churchyard of the Mary Magdalene Lutheran church in Vilmnitz village. This church is originally from the Middle Ages.

Mary Magdalene church, 11 October 2018

However, much of the interior is from the eighteenth century.

Outside, at the churchyard, nuthatch and jackdaw sound.

We continued, from medieval-eighteenth century buildings to the twentieth century: Prora.

Prora was built as a big 4.5 kilometer long complex along the beach, 1936-1939. Nazi Germany intended it as a holiday resort and as military buildings in wartime. In 1939, World War II broke out, with Prora still unfinished. It was never used as holiday resort, though it was used for Hitler’s military.

Prora, 11 October 2018

Now, one of the Prora buildings houses a documentation centre. The sign says: ‘Have a holiday’, in a rather military command tone.

Other parts of Prora are now being reconstructed.

Dilapidated part of Prora

Still other parts are in ruins.

Prora sign, 11 October 2018

This sign, close to the coastal cliff, warns of mortal danger.

Kill nazis, 11 October 2018

Fortunately, the swastikas and other Third Reich signs are gone. This recent graffiti points into another direction.

Antifa, 11 October 2018

As does this recent graffiti about Antifa (anti-fascists).

This July 2014 video shows a hooded crow on a Rügen beach.

We ended 11 October 2018, however, not with hooded crows; but as we had started it, with cranes.

Cranes sunset, 11 October 2018

From a hill, we could see these cranes flying past the setting sun.

Stay tuned; there will be more Rügen on this blog!

Snowy mountains, high-rise buildings in China

Snowy mountains near Kangding, 4 April 2018

As an earlier blog post mentioned, on 3 April 2018 we had arrived back in Kangding, capital of Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan province in China. The next morning, 4 April, a plane brought us back to Chengdu city; flying along snowy mountains, as this photo, a cellphone photo like the others of this blog post, shows.

At a big Chengdu railway station, we boarded a bullet train to Shaanxi province, to Yangxian county, to Hanzhong city.

Chengdu buildings and trees, 4 April 2018

Chengdu is a city of over 10 million people. Quite some of them housed in high-rise buildings like on these photo.

Chengdu buildings, 4 April 2018

We arrived in Hanzhong.

This 2017 video says about itself:

Large patches of rapeseed flowers in full bloom, decorating the fields with shades of yellow upon green, have attracted large crowds of spring outing makers to the Yangxian County of Hanzhong in … China’s Shaanxi Province.

The county is also well-known for the beautiful birds — the crested ibis, an endangered species listed on the State Protection List in China.

Stay tuned … as there will be more on China on this blog. Especially about birds: special birds.

Buddhist monasteries, snowy mountains in China

Mount Yala, 3 April 2018

Still 3 April 2018, after our earlier report on that day. We left Pamuling village, and went to an area with many snowy mountains. Like Mount Yala depicted on this photo.

Mount Yala is 5,820 meters high. It is one of four holy mountains in local Tibetan Buddhism. Oriental White Yak mountain is another name for it.

Mount Yala, on 3 April 2018

There are Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and prayer flags around Mount Yala …

Mount Yala, Sichuan, 3 April 2018

… and green meadows and grey rocks.

Lhagang monastery, 3 April 2018

We continued to Tagong, or Lhagang monastery, at 3,530 meters above sea level. Its full name in Tibetan is Minyag Lhagang Yongdzog Rabgyal Lhakang Thongdrol Samdrubling. On its gate, four languages: English, Chinese, Tibetan and Sanskrit.

Mount Gongga, 3 April 2018

We continued, and saw the highest mountain in Sichuan province. Mount Gongga. 7,556 meters high.

Snow, 3 April 2018

More snowy mountains.

Mount Zheduo, 3 April 2018

We arrived at a mountain pass: Mount Zheduo.

Mount Zheduo, flags, 3 April 2018

Many Buddhist prayer flags there.

Stupas, 3 April 2018

And Buddhist stupas (chörten in Tibetan).

Finally, we arrived back in Kangding.

Buddhism and architecture at Pamuling monastery

Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery inner court, 3 April 2018

Still 3 April 2018, still at Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery on the top of Pamuling mountain in Sichuan, China. This photo shows the monastery’s inner court with some monks.

Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery #8, 3 April 2018

The monks live in numbered cells.

Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery #13, 3 April 2018

Apparently, the belief that 13 is supposedly an unlucky number has not spread to this monastery (in China, four is an unlucky number).

Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery monks, 3 April 2018

A group of monks, with in the background one of the lion sculptures.

Pamuling Tibetan Buddhist monastery monk, 3 April 2018

This photo shows a young monk at the exit. So, we passed through the exit to see some more birds. We will see them in the next blog post on Pamuling!