November 30, 2007

Yeasty Humor

Who says that mycologists don't have a sense of humor? Well, maybe somebody does. I don't actually know. People don't talk about mycologists all that much if they aren't mycologists themselves. Just in case anyone does say so, though, here's contrary evidence.

I was just now reading Chitin and Chitinases and ran across the following sentence:

During conjugation, haploid [S. cerevisiae] cells of complementary mating types form projections (shmoos) toward each other under the stimulus of the corresponding sexual pheremone.
Now, there's a term I'd never heard before, probably because I don't "do" yeasts. It's a funny word in such a scientific context, I thought, so I decided to look it up and see where it came from.

It turns out that "shmoo" is a reference to a comic strip character from Li'l Abner. The shape of a conjugating yeast cell resembles one of these comical critters, hence the application.

Here are some conjugating yeast cells:

And here are some comic strip shmoos:

They do look a lot alike. And ain't it cute... both the yeast shmoos and the ink shmoos are in "love." Awwwww.

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