August 28, 2008

Fungus Week at Small Things Considered

The American Society for Microbiology's Moselio Schaechter has dedicated this week's blogging at Small Things Considered to articles about fungi. So far, three of the five promised articles have appeared:

  • But Is It Good to Eat? discusses how Japanese researcher have been using PCR to identify mushrooms after they've been cooked. Since most people who poison themselves cook their misidentified mushrooms before eating them, the technique could be a help to medical professionals needing to identify the fungus involved.

  • Fiddling With Fungi is about a German investigation into whether the exceptional quality of celebrated Stradivarius violins may have to do with the action of wood-degrading fungi on his raw material. If the researchers' hypothesis is correct, the world may see something like the first new Stradivarius assembled in 300 years.

  • Deadly Pretzels discusses how Amanita makes its most lethal toxins. Hyphoid Logic readers may recall the work of Heather Hallen-Adams on this topic, as discussed last November.
Hyphal tip to Chris Ellison of Fungal Genomes and Comparative Genomics, who writes:
The excellent microbiology blog Small Things Considered is celebrating the beginning of mushroom collecting season with a weeks worth of fungal posts.
Which comes as a bit of news to we hardcore collectors who've been tromping through the woods since April! If anyone who thinks August is the beginning of collecting season is wondering why they aren't finding any of the good stuff, it's because I've already collected it all.


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