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Posts Tagged "fungi"

The Artful Amoeba

Dandruff-Causing Skin Fungi Discovered Unexpectedly in Deep Sea Vents, Antarctica

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Until relatively recently, the fungus Malassezia was thought to have one favorite home: us. As the dominant fungus on human skin and sometimes-cause of dandruff, the yeast Malassezia was thought to live a simple if sometimes irritating domestic existence humbly mooching off the oils we exude. No more. Thanks to the efforts of scientists over [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Kawasaki Disease Traced to Winds from Northeast China Carrying Unusual Fungal Load

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In 2012 I wrote a story for Nature about a strange illness called Kawasaki Disease whose cause has eluded scientists for over 50 years. The diseases causes inflammation of the blood vessels in small children that leads to fever, rashes and reddening, and even coronary aneurysms that can cause heart attacks in the young. Whatever [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Frog-Killing Fungus Meets Its Match in Hidden World of Tiny Predators

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As I reported in a feature story in Scientific American last December , some fungi have been behaving badly of late, attacking bats, plants, amphibians, reptiles, and people with gusto, driving many species to extinction and others to the brink. It’s all quite depressing. But today in Scientific American online I report some good news: [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Fungi Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before

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When I took Mycology 101 in grad school, the textbook situation was so bad that the one we used came on a CD-ROM. Not came with a CD-ROM. It was one. My professor grumbled that printed mycology texts all had their flaws and none was great. The illustrations were usually fair to poor. The drawings [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

An Illustration of the Many Ways to Be Multicellular on Planet Earth

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How many ways are there to be multicellular on Earth? You know, organisms made of more than one cell? Let’s see . . . plants, animals, and fungi. Three, right? Wrong. I give you “Representative Diverse Origins of Multicellularity …”, aka, Fig. 1 from the paper “The Evolutionary-Developmental Origins of Multicellularity” in the January issue [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Fungi on the March: My New Feature Story for Scientific American

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Healthy humans are strangely impervious to fatal fungi. It usually takes something like a shot in the spine with a contaminated drug to give fungi the necessary upper hand. Sure, fungi can be maddening skin irritants, but when was the last time you heard that someone with a normal immune system had died of a [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

How Your Morning Commute Resembles a Fungus

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In many fungi, the DNA storage compartments called nuclei are not prisoners of the cells they reside in, the way they are in animals and plants. Instead, fungal nuclei are free to move about the cabin. They flow through the joined, tube-shaped cells of fungi like busy commuters, and experience many of the same dynamics. [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

There’s Darwin’s Fungus!

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Last winter I wrote a post called “Darwin’s Neon Golf Balls” about a fungus called Cyttaria that Darwin collected during his journey on the Beagle. The fungus has a fascinating alien shape and neon orange color when fresh. At the time, I wrote: According to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, Darwin sent his specimen [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Yeast: Making Food Great for 5,000 Years. But What Exactly Is it?

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Fire was the first force of nature tamed for cooking. Yeast was second. In the early days of ancient Egypt, around 3100 B.C., there lived a ruler named Scorpion, who probably did not look like The Rock. When Scorpion died, pyramids had not yet been invented, so he was buried in a broad, low tomb [...]

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The Artful Amoeba

Wonderful Things: The Hidden Beauty of the Horse Dung Fungus

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Note: This is the third installment in the “Wonderful Things” series. What you are about to see is a truffle-like (although it seems to fruit above-ground) fungus called Pisolithus tinctorius. It has many names, but in the United States it sometimes goes by “dyemaker’s puffball”. From the outside, it sits on the ground like an unassuming [...]

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Observations

The Race to Catalogue Living Species before They Go Extinct

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The U.S. has spent several billion dollars looking for life on other planets. Shouldn’t we spend at least that much finding and identifying life on Earth? That is the argument behind a taxonomy analysis by a trio of scientists in Science, published on January 25. They argue just $500 million to $1 billion a year [...]

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Observations

Unwanted Housemates: Dishwashers Provide Habitat for “Extremotolerant” Fungi

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A dishwasher makes a nice addition to any home. But the appliances also make a nice home for a number of fungi, some of which are pathogenic, according to a new study. A group of researchers from institutions in Slovenia, the Netherlands and China took samples from the rubber seals inside 189 dishwashers from 18 [...]

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