(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘fungus

“In the end everything is connected”*…

 

Ectomycorrhizal mushroom Dermocybe-1280x720

A fungus known as a Dermocybe forms part of the underground wood wide web that stitches together California’s forests [source]

Research has shown that beneath every forest and wood there is a complex underground web of roots, fungi and bacteria helping to connect trees and plants to one another.

This subterranean social network, nearly 500 million years old, has become known as the “wood wide web.”

Now, an international study has produced the first global map of the “mycorrhizal fungi networks” dominating this secretive world…

Mycorrhizal ecologist Dr Merlin Sheldrake, said, “Plants’ relationships with mycorrhizal fungi underpin much of life on land. This study … provides key information about who lives where, and why. This dataset will help researchers scale up from the very small to the very large.”…

fungus map

The underground network of microbes that connects trees—charted for first time: “Wood Wide Web: trees’ social networks are mapped.”

Read the Nature release that reports the research here.

* José Eduardo Agualusa, The Book of Chameleons

###

As we contemplate connection, we might spare a thought for Anders (Andreas) Dahl; he died on this date in 1789.  A botanist and student of Carl Linnaeus, he is the inspiration for, the namesake of, the dahlia flower.

220px-Double_dahlia

Dahlia, the flower named after Anders Dahl [source]

 

Written by LW

May 25, 2019 at 1:01 am

Scoping scale…

On AndaBien, web designer Steve Rose pursues his extra-vocational enthusiasms… among them, evolution.

His Evolution Timeline is a marvelous evocation of the sheer temporal scale of our antecedents.

— From first life-forms to homo sapiens

* The background indicates inches and feet.
* 1/20th in. = roughly 100 thousand years. (108,000)
* 1 inch = about 2 million years. (2,160,000)
* 1 foot = about 26 million years. (25,920,000)
* The whole page is about 135 feet wide, almost half a football field, representing 3.5 billion years. (3,500,000,000)

The very beginning of the timeline (and of life on Earth)

So, be prepared to scroll…  and scroll and scroll and scroll…  And to learn.  (By way of reinforcing one’s sense the extraordinary sweep of it all, readers might also appreciate Rose’s “Evolution, The Movie.”)

As we struggle with the recent revisions to the tree of life and the suggestion that humans are more closely related to fungus than to plants, we might recall that it was on this date in 1886 that Coca-Cola was first sold to the public at the soda fountain in Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.  It was formulated by pharmacist John Stith Pemberton, who mixed it in a 30-gallon brass kettle hung over a backyard fire.  Pemberton’s recipe, which survived in use until 1905, was marketed as a “brain and nerve tonic,” and contained extracts of cocaine and (caffeine-rich) kola nut. The name, using two C’s from its ingredients, was suggested by his bookkeeper Frank Robinson, whose excellent penmanship provided the famous scripted  “Coca-Cola” logo.

Pemberton’s Palace

Now, in addition to penicillin, we can credit mold with elegant design…

Quoting Science, Jim Nash at True/Slant reports on researchers at Hokkaido University who have used mold (Physarum polycephalum, a slime mold often found inside decaying logs) to design a transit system…  and found that our fungal friends did a very good job indeed.

The Physarum polycephalum built a replica of the Tokyo train system in 26 hours that’s just about as efficient, reliable and “expensive” to run as the real thing.

Slime mold expands from “Tokyo” to connect to oat flakes representing surrounding cities

…the scientists created a map of the Tokyo metro area using oat flakes for the major cities. Then they put a gelatinous blob (technically, a plasmodium) of Physarum on “Tokyo,” and sat back to see what would happen.

Within about 12 hours, the mold had covered the area with a thin and wet veined sheath of itself. By the 26th hour, the sheath was gone, replaced by mushy tunnels connecting the flakes. The tunnels mimicked Tokyo’s transit system…

…scientists think they can take what they’ve learned about self-organization from the slime mold and apply it to the construction of communication networks and other similar systems.

The whole story is here.

As we revel in the excuse to continue to put off cleaning our refrigerators, we might recall that it was on this date in 1812 that the largest (non-subduction zone) earthquake in U.S. history was recorded.  One the last in a series of roughly 1,000 tremblers to hit the New Madrid, MO area, the February 7 quake measured 8.3 on the Richter Scale; it destroyed New Madrid, and was felt as far away as New York City and Boston, Massachusetts, where church bells were made to ring.  (The 1906 San Francisco Quake registered at about 7.8, and was felt over a much smaller area.)

New Madrid. MO

%d bloggers like this: