Fungus, oldest land fossil, discovered

This video says about itself:

Life on Earth began in Scotland… with 440mn year old fungus, scientists discover

2 March 2016

University of Cambridge scientists have discovered the origins of land-based life on the Scottish Hebridean Island of Kerrera, in the form of a primitive fungus.

Tortotubus fungus, also found in Gotland, Sweden, is said to be one of the first organisms to make its way from the sea on to land.

By Helen Briggs, BBC News in Britain:

‘Humble little fungus’ is oldest known land fossil

2 March 2016

It is smaller than a human hair, resembles a mushroom, and is thought to be the earliest fossil of a land-dwelling organism.

The fungus, which dates back 440 million years, spent its life under the ground rotting down matter.

Even the scientist who analysed it – Dr Martin Smith – admits it is a ”humble little fungus”.

But the pioneer, known as Tortotubus, could help explain how early life colonised the rocky barren Earth.

Most scientists agree that life moved from the sea to the land between 500 and 450 million years ago.

But in order for plants and animals to gain a foothold on terra firma there needed to be nutrients and soil to support them.

Fungi kick-started this process, by getting nitrogen and oxygen into the rudimentary soil.

Fossil record

Dr Smith says there were probably bacteria and algae already on land – but these are rarely preserved in the fossil record.

This makes Tortotubus probably the oldest fossil of a land-dwelling organism yet to be found.

Dr Smith told BBC News: ”It’s the first fossil of an organism that only lived on land.

”It would have broken down dead, decayed material – essentially rotted it.”

Mushroom-forming fungi

The fossilised fungus has been found in many locations, including Sweden and Scotland.

Each microfossil is shorter than a human hair is wide and has a rope-like structure similar to that of some modern-day fungi.

Scientists think that early fungi contributed to soil formation and the rotting process, thereby paving the way for flowering plants and trees,

The early land plants were not yet flowering plants or trees. These came much later.

then animals.

”During the period when this organism existed, life was almost entirely restricted to the oceans: nothing more complex than simple mossy and lichen-like plants had yet evolved on the land,” said Dr Smith, who carried out the research at the University of Cambridge but is now based at Durham University.

”But before there could be flowering plants or trees, or the animals that depend on them, the processes of rot and soil formation needed to be established.”

The research is published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.

See also here.

Botanical garden fungi report

Field blewit

In the February 2016 issue of the magazine of the botanical garden in Leiden, the Netherlands, Hans Adema reports on fungi.

At the end of 1914, Ganoderma multipileum fungi were found on a tree trunk in a hothouse. This Asiatic species had come there spontaneously.

On 4 January 2015, there was a half circle of field blewit fungi. These mushrooms can stand winter weather, if it is not too severe, well.

Collared earthstars have been present in the garden for years. In 2015, they also grew at a spot where they had not been seen before.

On 20 September 2015, a fungus, new for the garden, was found Peziza arvernensis.

Spring mushrooms already in January

This video is called Pholiotina aporos – fungi kingdom.

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

27 January 2016 – Pholiotina aporos mushrooms are almost exclusively known from spring. Especially in the months of April and May you have a chance to find them. In the Netherlands only a few have been found in late autumn. All the more remarkable is the finding of early January in the dunes of IJmuiden. When flawless Pholiotina aporos fungi were discovered on a thin layer of humus under high sea buckthorn.

Rare fungi in the Netherlands

Funnel cap fungi

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Jan 20, 2016 – On the Papenberg dune a number of endangered goblet funnel cap fungi has been found. Things go badly for this rare mushroom. Acidification of its habitat will probably cause that. The discovery on the Papenberg raises many questions. A few decades ago they were still found massively here. It is likely that fungi in the area have not been monitored for a long time.

The Papenberg is a high dune just west of railway station Castricum.

Rare fungi in Dutch Ilperveld: here.

Wigeons, great egrets and fungi

This 9 September 2015 Dutch video is about Duivenvoorde estate, near Voorschoten town.

We went there again on 16 January 2016. The video shows Duivenvoorde in summer. However, we went there on a wintry and windy day. Often sun, sometimes a hailstorm.

Near the entrance, coots swimming.

Great egret and grey herons on a meadow.

Egyptian geese.

A buzzard calls.

Blackbirds and a redwing on a meadow.

In a pond, a male tufted duck, mallard and gadwall ducks. And moorhens.

A robin on a bush.

Under a big tree, dozens of earthstars.

We continued to De Horsten estate. Two hares in a meadow.

Near the entrance of De Horsten, coral spot fungi on a fallen tree.

Before we returned, hundreds of wigeons swimming and on a canal bank. Grey lag geese and mute swans. A northern lapwing.

And a group of siskins in woodland.

Rare fungus discovered on Vlieland island

Microglossum rufescens

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Jan 13, 2016 – Due to the continuing mild weather until the end of December 2015 people could search for mushrooms. Also on Vlieland where an enthusiastic mushroom loving woman on Boxing Day on the road side along the road near the Kroonspolders found extremely rare earth tongues.


She was there looking for the rare olive earth tongue (Microglossum olivaceum), which had been found there in 2011. The earth tongues she saw now looked a bit like that species but were different. They had to be a different earth tongue species. Further identification by two mycologists found that it was Microglossum rufescens, a species that is extremely rare and does not even have a Dutch name. In November 2014 this species of earth tongue was first found in the Netherlands on an old graveyard in Zutphen. The discovery on Vlieland makes it the second site in the Netherlands.

Over 140 new plant species discovered by Kew Gardens scientists in 2015

This 5 June 2015 video from England says about itself:

Carlos Magdalena, Kew Gardens – People of London

22 January 2015

There are thousands of species at Kew; here are a few important ones …. Kew Gardens‘ Carlos Magdalena.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Why this year’s bumper harvest of new plant species has exciting implications

More than 140 species new to science were uncovered by researchers at Kew Gardens in 2015

Lewis Smith

Sunday 27 December 2015

A three-metre orchid, a 45-metre tree and 25 types of acanthus were among the new species of plants and fungi discovered in the past year by Kew scientists. More than 140 species new to science were uncovered by researchers at the botanic gardens in 2015, twice as many as the previous year, raising hopes that new types of medicines, essential oils and crops will be developed.

The discoveries were made across the world as botanists sought to catalogue and study unknown plants and fungi, and to determine their chemical properties. Among the most exciting are 22 new species of trees and shrubs in the myrtle family. They were identified in Brazil’s coastal rainforest, and have potential for use in medicines, perhaps as antiseptics or diuretics, and by the aromatherapy industry.

Several of the finds have potential uses in agriculture, including a type of sweet potato found in Bolivia. It was one of 18 new species belonging to the Ipomoea family – familiar to British gardeners as morning glory. The new sweet potato is unlikely to be grown as a crop in its own right, but it could be cross-bred with the commercial species to create new varieties that might be more disease-resistant or able to grow in drier or wetter areas. Specific genes might also be transferred to create genetically modified strains.

Other discoveries likely to interest commercial growers include five that are relatives of the custard apple, or sugar apple, and ylang-ylang, another important source of essential oils; these were unearthed in Malaysia and Indonesia.

The largest and heaviest discovery of the year was a tree, Gilbertiodendron maximum, which grows 45m high and has a 1.4m-diameter trunk. It grows only in Gabon and was one of eight rainforest giants located in the Cameroon-Congolian region.

Six new orchids were described by Kew researchers, including a 3-metre slipper orchid, Selenipedium dodsonii, from Ecuador. It was identified from a specimen taken from the wild decades ago and stored unnoticed in a US herbarium.

Five new species of toadstool, discovered in Europe and North America, are believed to play a vital role in the survival of some conifer forests by supplying nutrients in return for carbohydrates.

Researchers identified 25 new acanthuses, more than any other family of plants this year, while in Mozambique a small patch of land described by botanists as “highly threatened” by a French petroleum company yielded an astonishing 36 previously unknown species.

Dr Martin Cheek, a senior scientist at Kew, said finding new plants is vital. “They could be important to our survival. If we wipe them out they aren’t going to be of any help.”