The orchid species Gastrodia pubilabiata mimics rotting mushrooms or fermented fruit, and is pollinated by fruit flies who mistakenly lay their eggs in its flowers. If there are rotting mushrooms near the orchid, its pollination rate increases. As well as using mushrooms to attract insect pollinators, G. pubilabiata survives by absorbing nutrients from the fungal hyphae of mushrooms. This is the first time a plant has been discovered to depend on mushrooms both above and below ground.
Yeasts are tiny fungi -- but they play key roles in producing everything from beer and cheese to industrial chemicals and biofuels. And now scientists are proposing a new approach that could help these industries find new yeasts for use in their manufacturing processes.
Widely used as biomonitors of air quality, forest health and climate change, lichens play a vital role. However, no overview of their diversity across the emblematic Alps had been provided up until recently, when an international team of lichenologists concluded their 15-year study with a publication in the open access journal MycoKeys. Their annotated checklist includes more than 3,000 lichens and presents a long-missed benchmark for scientists studying mountain systems around the globe.
Many fungus species grow through a process of vesicle secretion that can be applied in a biotechnology setting to make commercial or medical products. However, the details of this process are unclear. Researchers at the University of Tsukuba (Japan) used a high-speed imaging technique to visualize hyphal growth in the fungus Aspergillus nidulans. Several new features were uncovered, including the discovery that different vesicle types move at different velocities
UZH plant researchers have tested newly developed wheat lines with improved resistance in field trials. They have demonstrated that a combination of two variations of a resistance gene provides wheat with better protection against the fungal disease.
Aspergillus fungi are pathogens, decomposers, and important sources of biotechnologically-important enzymes. In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by researchers at the Technical University of Denmark, the DOE Joint Genome Institute and the Joint BioEnergy Institute report the first outcome from the large-scale sequencing of 300+ Aspergillus species. These findings are a proof of concept of novel methods to functionally annotate genomes to more quickly identify genes of interest.
Midwestern corn growers know the symptoms of northern corn leaf blight all too well: greenish-gray lesions on the leaves that can add up to major yield losses if not detected and treated early. Corn resistance genes have been identified, but the fungal disease has found ways to sneak around corn's defenses. Now, researchers have discovered how the fungus is outsmarting corn, and they may be able to use this information to help corn fight back.
'When plants give up photosynthesis, this changes their relationship with other organisms, such as the insects who may pollinate them,' comments Professor Suetsugu.
So far, little research has been conducted on fungi that live on dead trees, although they are vital to the forest ecology by breaking down dead wood and completing the element cycle between plants and soil. Soil biologists from the UFZ have now discovered that the number of fungus species inhabiting dead trees is 12 times higher than previously thought. Once trees die they are also colonized by different fungal communities depending on their species.
In the course of genomic analyses of the fungus behind white-nose-syndrome, a devastating disease that has killed millions of bats in North America, US Forest Service scientists discovered something very surprising: brief exposure to UV-light kills Pseudogymnoascus destructans.