A huge 2500-year-old sponge raises many questions


It seems that researchers with this monster have reached a jackpot in fungal secrets. The huge funeral (Armillaria gallica) is in Michigan and covers as many as 180 hectares. It was first discovered in the nineties of the pre-genome technology, and its size and age were underestimated. New studies have discovered a real monument to fungi, a fungal empire with some truly surprising features.

This is not a small achievement. Fungus is the primary driving force behind global ecology, decomposing organic matter and recycling everything. Finding a great, super-stable fungal system like this is quite similar to Rosetta Stone in mycology, a series of messages that need to be understood. This special fungus could have the key to a whole series of genomic efforts of science, from curing cancer to basic ecological research. Technical information can be found in the Royal Society document.)

The fungi are in many ways than on one. Mushrooms are liquid bodies of fungi, but the rest of the organism is a complex of organic substrate materials that cover large areas. How this huge fungus has grown so great is an important issue and there are some truly fascinating problems that need to be solved:

1. Fungi are not repeated often, but they managed to cover 180 hectares? Is this another example of a low-speed propagation cycle (in this case completely too long) that provides a long lifetime?

2. In the fungal genome there are many less mutations than would be expected from such a large organism. This refers to a thing called "homozygousness", which is usually associated with the inbred organism, which is supposed to be bad for them. Not in this case, obviously?

3. Now think about the fact that this organism has been present for 2500 years and still has a smaller degree of mutation. What kind of biology and ecology support this situation?

4. This is not a passive organism. Fungus can decompose dead wood and attack weakened trees. This special fungus should also be very successful in these central functions in order to spread so consistently so long.


This is especially true Armillaria gallica is certainly located in a sweet spot, ecologically. It lies in the middle of a pine plantation, it is excellent for wood-decaying fungi, and Michigan is just next to the south end of the old coniferous Boreal Forest, which once covered North America.

The fungus is not found in Michigan's toxic pesticide area due to pollution and is in a rather characteristic, almost natural area near the Paint River, with apparently good water sources. This is the Promised Land for fungi, good soil, plenty of food and plenty of water. If you were the funeral plan that you planned for a holiday, you should go here.

So – Is this some kind of idealized gigantic fungus in an idealized location? Ah, um, … Maybe not. "Maybe not" is based on a very slow level of duplication. Over the past 2,500 years, a lot has happened in this environment. Forests do not grow evenly. They can also be infected by pests, invasive plants, etc. In particular, dry spells can very drastically affect fungi. Conifers are also pyrogens, which means they need regular fires to reproduce.

So, if you are a smart fungus, you will not behave with your replication. Do it at optimal times and use your ability to calmly go in bad weather. At least a few seasons and events will be negative in this decade. 250 years later Armillaria gallica Of course, the routine became perfect.

Genetic issues and many of them

The low degree of mutation has many questions:

1. Did not there be environmental genetic influences that would bring at least occasional mutations? Obviously not much, and if so, they are obviously imprisoned, the method is not known. Armillaria are known for their "pleiomorphic" characteristics (the ability to change shape and size), or does this have something to do with this genetically high fidelity? The organism of this level of versatility would be completely able to be selective, as researchers speculate and maintain the integrity of the gene.

2. If Armillaria gallica can maintain such genetic stability, how? Does it have a mechanism for stabilizing the gene or just better genes management than practically everything else on Earth? You can see why this is fascinated by the guys. If the fungus has resolved a dangerous mutation, this is a big deal.

3. In order to make the genetic secret more striking – the effect of "inbreeding" has the opposite effect than the usual outbreaks of deadly genes that cause causes in other organisms. Why not in this case? This fungus simply does not have anything like, for example, the genetic problems of other organisms.

4. Very slow growth can be crucial. The longest living organisms on Earth have steady growth in very long periods, usually in combination with slow metabolism. Fungi are slightly different. Glycemic enzymes are powerful chemistry and are certainly not slow. In terms of biological dynamics, they are probably more active than most other organisms, unless they are actually dormant.

5. The observed information still does not answer how the fungus reaches a mass of 8 x 10 per kilogram of 5. power in such a large area, unless sporulation is essentially a colonization process and not a random growth. Colonization would block competitors and monopolize local resources. It can be a funny response to the ant colony, practically indestructible and functionally immortal. A great tactic of survival, surely.

6. Evolutionary Breakthrough? Mastering the basic oddity of genetics and turning into something greater than some blue whales requires some good evolutionary practices.

The fungi are among the oldest organisms on Earth, so they may have solved the problem of fraudulent genes. Older, sophisticated species are usually more difficult than hell, very flexible and very capable to handle the mood of nature.

This fun could be a plan for a whole new look at so many biological things that it's almost funny. Go to the fungus, lazy, watch out for her path and be blue. It makes sense, is not it?

This opinion was written by an independent writer. Opinions and views expressed in it are the author's opinions and are not necessarily intended to reflect the views of DigitalJournal.com


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