Fungal Education and Outreach News

25 | 03 | 19

MiSAC matters 50th Anniversary Articles

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the Microbiology in Schools Advisory Committee (MiSAC) has produced a series of short illustrated articles, aimed at secondary school teachers and students, but of interest to a wider audience. Read More

20 | 06 | 17

Beatrix Potter: Pioneering Scientist or Passionate Amateur

The British author and illustrator was a keen mycologist – but she may not have been as ground-breaking as once thought. Read More

16 | 01 | 17

Soil fungi help tree seedlings survive, influence forest diversity

A new paper published Jan. 13 in Science reveals that the relationship between soil fungi and tree seedlings is more complicated than previously known. The paper was co-written by Ylva Lekberg, an assistant professor of soil community ecology at the University of Montana. Lekberg and her collaborators studied 55 species and 550 populations of North American trees. Scientists have long known that plants and soil biota can regulate one another, but the new findings highlight the complexity of the feedback loop. "Fungi differ in their ability to protect tree seedlings from pathogens, and this has implications for seedling recruitment and therefore forest community patterns," Lekberg said. Most plant roots are colonized by mycorrhizal fungi, but tree species associate with different fungal groups. The researchers showed that ectomycorrhizal fungi that form a thick sheet around root tips are better able to protect trees from pathogens than arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Thus, while ectomycorrhizal tree seedlings actually prefer growing next to parent trees, arbuscular mycorrhizal tree seedlings can only establish outside the control of parents' enemies. This can have consequences for how temperate forests are structured and their overall diversity. "Our findings show that to appreciate the complexity in nature, we need to better understand and consider interactions between plants and soil biota," said Lekberg, who works in UM's Department of Ecosystem and Conservation Sciences in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry & Conservation. She also works with the MPG Ranch, a research and conservation organization in Montana's Bitterroot Valley. Read More

11 | 01 | 17

Can a virus track the fungus that’s killing millions of bats?

A lethal fungus has killed an estimated 6 million bats in the US and Canada since researchers identified it in 2006. First discovered in New York, the disease has spread to 29 states and four Canadian provinces. Read More

04 | 01 | 17

Gift of the fungi: Mushrooms — yes, mushrooms — could help save the world

What can't mushrooms do? From cleaning chemical spills to mitigating topsoil loss, they're nature's unsung heroes. Read More

04 | 01 | 17

How fungi can improve the genetic makeup of bacteria.

Soil bacteria use the extensively branched, thread-like structures of fungi to move around and access new food sources. Read More

18 | 11 | 16

Tomato plants are more resistant against nematodes when colonized by a fungus

Plants are constantly challenged by hungry animals and infectious microbes. For tomato plants, major enemies are nematodes of the species Meloidogyne incognita. These are little worms that first induce the roots to form galls, which they then inhabit, feeding on the plant tissue. The plants' problem is: they cannot run away from their attackers. However, they have other means of defending themselves, namely chemical substances that are toxic or deterrent to the parasitic nematodes. The production of these compounds in the plant is tidily regulated by small hormones, like salicylic and jasmonic acid. Read More