Category Archives: FUNGI News

FUNGI Mag in the News!

Fungimag’s been in the news!


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sent their Outdoors writer on a morel foray with me and (thankfully) the morels cooperated!

About a week later, my mycology class and a Milwaukee chef’s cooking class (chef Dave Swanson’s company is called Braise on the Go; they’re into cooking wild edibles) teamed up for a very enjoyable event to learn about morels, to pick them, and then to cook them right there on the spot. The event was covered by a writer for the Associated Press and is now getting mileage! So far, it’s been on Yahoo News, ABC News, CBS News, and most other newspapers from Coast to Coast. Hopefully, it’ll keep on going!


The Morels are Coming!
It won’t be much longer…read my post on Civil Eats, part 2 of2:

Stalking the wild morel, sensibly.

Stalking the wild morel, sensibly.
Planning to hit the woods in search of morel mushrooms? Hunt safely. Check out my article, part 1 of 2, at the popular online magazine Civil Eats. You can see the article at:

Illinois State Morel Mushroom Championship cancelled for 2009

Folks, I recently got the word from Tom Nauman of Morel Mania. The Illinois State Morel Mushroom Hunting Championship is cancelled for 2009. BUT, you can still get your morel fix as Tom Nauman (founder of the Championship) is offering his “Morel University” that aims to educate on all matters morel, then will take you our into the woods where you can test your skills and further learn from THE guru of morels. Here’s a link to a story in the Peoria Journal Star 02/22/09:

Artillery Fungi: Fastest Flights in Nature!

Artillery Fungi SlidesWhen he’s not busy writing terrific stories on fungi and those who study fungi (eg. Mr. Bloomfield’s Orchard, Triumph of the Fungi, and Carpet Monsters), Nik Money spends his time investigating the mechanisms of spore dispersal in fungi. The research team in his lab at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, recently has employed an ultra-high-speed video camera to film a number of fungi as they blast their tiny progeny at tremendous velocities.

The nature of spore release mechanisms among fungi has been investigated since the eighteenth century. Long thought to rely mostly by passive means, it was assumed that mushrooms—as one example—simply dropped their spores from gills, with the ensuing clouds of spores carried off on a current of air. Money has shattered that myth. First off, it should be noted that a variety of spore discharge processes have evolved among the fungi. Those with the longest ranges are powered by hydrostatic pressure and include “squirt guns” that are most common in the Ascomycota and Zygomycota. In these fungi, fluid-filled stalks that support single spores or spore-filled sporangia, or cells called asci that contain multiple spores, are pressurized by osmosis. Because spores are discharged at such high speeds, most of the information on launch processes from previous studies could only be calculated using mathematical models, at best, or pretty much guessed at by others.

In their report, recently published in the prestigious on-line research journal Public Library of Science ONE (Yafetto et al.; 2008; PLoS ONE 3[9]: e3237), Money and colleagues have used ultra-high-speed video cameras running at rates of 250,000 frames per second (!) to analyze the entire launch process in four species of fungi that grow on the dung of herbivores. For the first time ever, they were able to take direct measurements of launch speeds and empirical estimates of acceleration in these fungi. Get this: launch speeds ranged from 2 to 25 meters per second with incredible corresponding accelerations of 20,000 to 180,000 times the force of gravity which propelled spores over distances of up to 2.5 meters. (Little wonder that Nik has dubbed fungal spores the “fastest flights in nature.”) Additionally, quantitative spectroscopic methods were used to identify the organic and inorganic osmolytes responsible for generating the turgor pressures that drive spore discharge. The new video data allowed the team to test different models for the effect of viscous drag and identify errors in the previous approaches to modeling spore motion. Spectroscopic data showed that high speed spore discharge mechanisms in fungi are powered by the same levels of turgor pressure that are characteristic of fungal hyphae and do not require any special mechanisms of osmolyte accumulation.

Contemporary analysis of these extraordinary processes has implications for the fields of plant disease control, terrestrial ecology, indoor air quality, atmospheric sciences, veterinary medicine, and biomimetics. Mechanisms include a catapult energized by surface tension that launches mushroom spores, the explosive eversion of a pressurized membrane in the artillery fungus (Sphaerobolus stellatus, see color photo with multiples stages in readiness prior to blastoff) and the discharge of squirt guns pressurized by osmosis. Squirt gun mechanisms are responsible for launching spores at the highest speeds and are most common in the Ascomycota, including lichenized species, but have also evolved among the Zygomycota, including the loveable “hat thrower,” Pilobolus (see image sequences). In the so-called “coprophilous” fungi in both phyla, specialized for growth on herbivore dung, these squirt gun mechanisms propel spores over distances of many centimeters or even meters onto fresh vegetation (and thus away from the “zone of repugnance” surrounding the grazers’ dung) where they may be consumed by their host animals. The range of these mechanisms necessitates very high launch speeds to counteract the otherwise overwhelming influence of viscous drag on the flight of microscopic projectiles. Money is now taking a look at the mechanisms of ballistospore discharge within the Basidiomycetes, and you can too. Check out the sequence of images Dr. Money supplied to Fungi that show spores being shot from the gills of Armillaria tabascens, one of the honey mushrooms. Last summer at the annual meeting of the Mycological Society of America, Nik brought down the house with his Cannon Fungus Opera, featuring ultra-high-speed film of fungi blasting away, set to the tune of the “Anvil Chorus.”

Watch the video HERE: