(Roughly) Daily

“The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese”*…

The blue-green marbling of fungus that makes Blue (or as purists might have it, Bleu) Cheese blue is a delight to some, but a horror to others.  Now Roquefort-refusers have a new reason to demur…

Until pretty recently, a big chunk of fungal species were thought to reproduce without sex–until people really started to look. It turns out, there’s a lot more sex going on in the fungal world (on the down-low) than people thought. And that includes fungi that are used to make delicious blue cheese. Jeanne Ropars and colleagues in France, the home of Roquefort cheese, looked at the genomes of the mold species used in this particular cheese to see what kind of funny business was going on in their snack of choice. They found much more diversity than could be explained by asexual reproduction. And even more telling, the genes used by fungi to find mating partners have been kept intact and functional by evolution, meaning there’s probably some sex going on…

So far, no one has actually seen this mold having sex. But it could be. It could be doing it right now. Who knows what kind of awesome super-cheese could be evolving, right under your nose?

Read the full story at Molecular Love (and Other Facts of Life); and find the research paper to which it refers here.

* G.K. Chesterton (though this news could be just what it takes to attract poets into the mold…  er, fold.)

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As we put away the saltines, we might send inventive birthday greetings to David Wilkinson; he was born on this date in 1771.  A mechanical engineer and machinist, Wilkinson (no known relation to your correspondent) played a key role in the development of machine tools in the U.S. (initially in the textile industry):  he invented the lathe and process for cutting screws.

 source

Written by LW

January 5, 2013 at 1:01 am

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