Most people know lichens as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark, and learned in school that they’re a mutually beneficial partnership or “symbiosis” between a fungus and an algae.
But lichen scientists have made the shocking new discovery that many lichens are also made up of a previously undiscovered third partner — a new kind of yeast.
Not only does that potentially alter the fundamental definition of what a lichen is, but it “should change expectations about the diversity and ubiquity” of the organisms that form them, says a new study published today in Science.
The new yeast has apparently gone undetected in lichens for more than a century, despite the fact that scientists all over the world have devoted entire careers to studying lichens closely with microscopes and genetic testing.
That seemed so unlikely that the scientists working on the project had trouble believing it themselves.
“It’s so surprising that you kind of doubt yourself for a long time,” said John McCutcheon, a microbiologist at the University of Montana and a research fellow with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research who co-authored the new study published today in Science.
“We had to check our data more than 10 times,” recalled Toby Spribille, lead author of the paper. “It seemed to me so unlikely that so many people would have missed that.”
A 50 million year old mushroom has been found trapped in amber, the first ever discovered.
The Eocene fungus was captured in time alongside the exoskeleton of a small insect, and the hair of a rodent.
Scientists say that the little tableaux gives an fascinating insight into life shortly after the dinosaurs became extinct.
The insect, which is thought to have been feeding on the mushroom seconds before, literally, jumped out of its skin after being surrounded by the sticky tree sap, and fled the scene leaving only its outer shell behind.
A rodent hair, also trapped in the amber, suggests that a mice or rat was nibbling at the mushroom before it was trapped in amber.
“From what we can see in this fossil, a tiny mushroom was bitten off, probably by a rodent, at the base of a tree,” said George Poinar, Jr, a researcher in in the College of Science at Oregon State University.
“An insect, similar to a walking stick, was probably also trying to feed on the mushroom.
“It appears to have immediately jumped out of its skin and escaped, just as tree sap flowed over the remaining exoskeleton and a hair left behind by the fleeing rodent.”
We currently live in a world that’s chasing artificial intelligence, when there is a real intelligence out there with just as much promise as AI.It’s all around us, you’re breathing it in right now.It’s an intelligence that we don’t fully understand, but it works.It’s housed in organisms that have their own form of the internet sharing information that has been learned over millions of years; organisms that can solve many of our problems; problems that will be solved through natural AI, the biological intelligence of fungi. In this episode, we get into a wide variety of subject matter related to mycology from Remediation, importance of mycorrhizal fungi, fungi with annual crops, future of medicinal mushrooms and medicine, marketing versus effectiveness in some mushroom based products, and future of psilocybin mushrooms in medicine.