A fungus being harvested in Nepal is leading to devastating effects on the local environment […]
Just reading the comically scientific name of this newly discovered species of fungus — Spongiforma squarepantsii — is sufficient to produce smirks and a raised eyebrows, but its discovery is a rare find for mycologists; resembling a typical sea sponge, the hole-pocked fungus is only the second known member of the Spongiforma genus. The name literally translates as “the sponge form of square pants” and true to its name (though not square), the fungus has a remarkable ability to retain water; it can be squeezed like a sponge to extract its store of water.
As it is Earth Day, my natural inclination is to look at the current state of Nature….specifically, the status of certain animal species that are either holding on, currently threatened, or “on the brink”….here are just four such cases (wolves, tigers, bats and penguins)…
The resurgent interest in alternative fuels has propelled interest in using biomass “feedstocks” as an energy source for liquid fuel and bio-electricity generation. But bio-fuel (and other ‘commodity chemicals’) derived from biomass faces one big technical challenge: how to separate the useful constituents of cellulose-based biomass (i.e., its its six-carbon, building block sugars) from the not so useful ones (such as lignin and hemicellulose)? REcetn research has confirmed that the key to biomass conversion to fuel is a fungus with the less-than-appealing name of brown rot fungus.
The UN’s Millennium Development Goal of ending global under-nourishment by 2015 will not be met, but a new set of “mega” initiatives are being implemented to achieve more efficient delivery of “research outputs” to speed agricultural development.
That fungus among us may be the answer to uranium-polluted soils eventually being brought back into use. Researchers at Dundee Unversity in the UK have determined that fungi can block … [Read full article]