The Fungi Around Us: Diversity, Ecology & Industrial Applications


Cafe Scientifique is a monthly series of expert lead discussions on science and culture presented by the Bell Museum of Natural History. For more information about the Bell Museum or to find out about upcoming Cafe Scientifique programs visit bellmuseum.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter. Hi guys, how’s it going? Woo! Thanks for being here at Cafe tonight. It’s wonderful to see you as always and we just so appreciate your support. I will never stop saying that because it’s always true. We do have some information about our next couple of Cafes coming up Um.. our November cafe is going to be about Moose Ecology and Observation of Changes in the Northwoods by author and professor John Pastore, who’s up at University of Minnesota – Duluth. He’ll coming down to share his observations. He wrote a wonderful book called “What A Clever Moose Eats” and currently that is also the title of his talk but he is going to be talking about a lot more than just moose. So please join us for that third Tuesday of November and then in December our very own Don Luce who is our curator of exhibits at the museum is going to come in. I’ve invited him to come in and tell us about the history of dioramas, as many of you know we are moving our museum to a new location which is being built right now at the corner of Cleveland and Larpenteur and on the St. Paul campus and so come December 31st we will be turning the lights out at the Bell Museum as you know it and then we’re gonna be closed for about a year and a half and then September- but not September- hopefully summer of 2018 will be opening in the new location. And during that closure a lot of the building is already being built and you can go check the site out right now, but during that closure will be moving a large number of our historic dioramas which also contain valuable pieces of artwork by the diorama painter Francis Lee Jaques, along with some other wonderful diorama painters, specimens that are as much as a hundred years old, and as you can imagine there are a lot of logistical tricks that are involved in this process so um and why would we even want to go through it. So Don’s gonna come in and talk about why these dioramas are so so precious and some of the really crazy adventures that were anticipating having in moving them from one place to another. All right I want to introduce our speakers tonight, we have to speakers, uh first we have Dr. Kathryn E Bushley, she’s an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota in the department of plant biology and Dr. Bushley’s research focuses on various aspects of fungal evolutionary biology and genetics. Her main research interests are the evolution of secondary metabolites in fungi, particularly non- ribosomal peptide synthetases… Yeah? I really wish I had read this ahead of time now… And Polychitide synthetases in a group of fungi that parasitize insects. She has sequenced the genome of a particular mushroom producer which happens to produce the immunosuppressant drug Cyclosporin and characterize the gene cluster producing this metabolite. Other research interests include utilizing next-generation sequencing technologies to address what features allow fungi to parasitize and interact with insects, to uncover ecological niches that insect pathogenic fungi occupy while not infecting a host, and to investigate the effects of mating biology and dispersal on spatial and population genetic structure. That’s what I get for being like ‘I’ll print this off and read it on stage’ Alright our second speaker is Kat Sweeney and I met her this summer because in the summers I occasionally teach summer camps at the Bell Museum for kiddos and we had a fourth through sixth grade camp and I think we’re doing the sustainability camp, yep? And Kat came into work with our kids planting oyster – oyster mushrooms so we planted moisture mushrooms in like a straw medium and it was very cool, those are edible of course, but also talked a little bit about applications of of mushrooms to possible biofuels in the future. So that was a tie in sustainability and I just thought Kat did an amazing job with the kids and so that very day it was like, “when can we get you in for Cafe?” so here she is! She’s born and raised in Germany moved to Minnesota in 1998 She’s an Associate of Science and Registered Nursing in the state of Minnesota and worked as a registered nurse in Minnesota from 2002-2008. She has her BS from University of Minnesota in Biology her MS from Oregon State University Plant Pathology with a focus on Mycology. She is a lecturer in biology and botany at Framingham State University in Massachusetts and then returned to Minnesota just a year ago to be in her PhD project in the Department of Plant Pathology. She focuses on wood decaying fungi, so she talking about that tonight. In her lab she’s worked with lichens and unique lichen compounds, several fungal pathogens of forest trees…the identification of fleshy mushrooms, microscopy of fungal tissues, and she loves outreach and teaching, has volunteered her time with the Bell, as I just mentioned, Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center, the Unity Center with Roseville area schools, and the mycology society of Minnesota. She also enjoys hiking, canoeing in the Boundary Waters, gardening, and cooking. All right, thank you so much please welcome our speakers to the stage. How’s everybody doing? Alright? Cool. Yeah, thanks for the introduction I’m Kat and I’m going to get us started tonight. I’m going to give a general overview of the fungi and then I’m going to talk a little bit about what I actually do in the lab and then I’ll let Kathryn take over from there. So yeah the fungi around us – let’s see- mushrooms and fungi, and as you’ll notice i tend to use the term interchangeably, are actually a really unique group of organisms. They are grouped in their own Kingdom so biologists recognize six kingdoms, and I have a little picture here, so we have the Achaians or archaebacteria, the true bacteria eubacteria, protists, plants, animals, and fungi. So again fungi have very unique characteristics and therefore they’re grouped within their own Kingdom by biologists. So here’s the same idea, I just put a different picture together, so on top here you can see our six kingdom system again and what’s added in this picture here is that we can see some relatedness between all these organisms and this relatedness was determined by researchers after doing some molecular analyses extracting DNA from different organisms comparing these to one another and it was actually found out that fungi are more closely related to animals then they are related to plants, and that’s pretty funny if you think about it, I think it wasn’t until about the 60s, 1960s, that fungi were grouped in the study of botany, right so people believe that ‘Ok, mycology is just a subtopic of botany’ but as we know now the fungi are actually more closely related to animals than they are related to plants. To give you an idea what’s actually included in the kingdom fungi we recognize 5 subcategories, if you will, or 5 subcategories, and to give you an idea of what is known in these categories take a look at this table here. So there’s a group called the Chytridiomycota, the Chytrids, at top here and so far we know around 1,000 species there and these are fungi that are usually associated with aquatic systems. The next up we have a group that’s called the Zygomycota, also around a thousand species are known here, if you are interested in fungi you may know that this group is currently in flux, meaning that taxonomy is is a bit open at this time and biologists are trying to reorganize the specimens in this group, so around a thousand known species within the Zygomycota. Then we have the Glomeromycota, again around a thousand species are known of these, and these include the fungi that are associated with plants. So many of these live in close association with plants. Then at the bottom here we have two large groups the Ascomycota with around 65,000 known species and the Basidiomycota with 30,000 known species, and I guess people tend to know these things a little bit better, so those fleshy fungi you see in the forests are included there. Many of those pathogens that you may know, fungal pathogens, are included in there and so they make up the largest portion of the fungi that are known and described today. So this this british researcher Hawksworth in the 90s actually had released an estimate of what is believed to be the biodiversity of fungi out there and that estimate came out to be around 1.5 million species, right. So now if you look at what’s known and described so far you realize, ‘well, this is a really under studied group of organisms’ right? We probably only know 5% of the fungi that are out there. So really not a whole lot, right? So yeah. Biologists tend to focus on other things I guess you could you could say, not so much on the fungi. So an understudied group of organisms, so this was in the 90s, right, but if you look at actually some current numbers the estimate, a more current estimate, for the fungal biodiversity that’s out there is believed to be around five million species. So we put that in perspective, right, as mycologists we really don’t know anything yet, it seems like, so there’s a lot left to be discovered and also if you feel like, in your lifetime, you’d like to describe a new species you may want to give mycology a try, right, and and and and check it out you might be able to describe something new. Alright so, taking a just a quick look at the fossil record of fungi, I guess you can say there isn’t a very big fossil record for the fungi, but from what is there it has been extrapolated that an evolutionary time fungi could go back to around 40 and 60 million years so they originated around 160 million years ago. That’s interesting because looking at plants and the plan fossil record it was determined that plants go back around 470 million years ago so couple a hundred million years in between that evolutionary time, that that really isn’t all that much, and that really made researchers start to look into that connection here, you know, so a connection between the first origin of plants and fungi in evolutionary time. And if you if you if you think about it, so initially all all organismal life on the planet was supposed to be in the water, right? All old organisms were aquatic and so somehow the plans and the fungi must have evolved together in order to get up onto dry land. And so the scientists today believe that plants and fungi may have done that in close association, namely in the symbiosis, so symbiosis meaning a close living arrangement between two or more organisms, two or more parties, that often happen to live in mutualism, so both partners or all partners benefiting each other, so that’s the the current idea here: that fungi and plants actually conquered dry land together, symbiotically. And those, those old plants could’ve looked like, I put a picture up here of the liver ward to give you an idea that the early plants really were just something low to the ground, and perhaps it was something like this that was in a close association with the fungus when it first made it on dry land. Ok so the fungal body: what makes fungi so unique? Why do they have their own Kingdom? Why are they so different from anything else? If you remember sitting in biology class right you may remember – ok a teacher will talk about an animal cell as kind of a blob-shape roundish thing, you may think about a plant cell as kind of a square-shape thing, you know, but then you look at the fungal cell which is called a hypha, plural hyphy, and you see that it’s nothing like that in the image on the left here, so here is an example of fungal hyphy, right. So it really is just an elongated tube with a whole lot of cytoplasm in it and organelles that swim around in it right so this is our fungal cell one fungal cell it’s a hyphen, in the picture on the middle here, this is something that you might see in your backyard as you look around in a leaf litter, what you could see in the on the forest floor, so you have aggregates or clusters of hyphy, right, and together a cluster of hyphy makes a mycelium, actually if anybody in the room here plays scrabble get your notepad out, these are some really high scoring words so.. they go all the fungal terms from mycology scores pretty high so just just a heads up. Ok so.. and then depending on what fungal species were looking at, species we’re looking at, sometimes you get these dense clusters of hyphy so something like this, right, so kind of a mycelial mat, a hyphal mat, that you that you often see, so that’s essentially the fungal body. Ok so for the for the most part of the year the fungus, the mushroom, or the fungus rather, I should say, will exist in this form, right, in just this kind of mycelial mat, right, but when the environmental conditions are right the mycelium will actually produce what we know as a mushroom, right, which is essentially the the fruiting body that is produced with the intent to have a structure that will make spores for reproduction. So when you see the mushroom it’s just really an extension of the mycelium that is there for most of the year and usually as you walk around outside you don’t really pay attention to mycelium, right, it sometimes is really hard to see, it’s covered up with leaf litter or what-have-you, right, but once the mushroom is there you actually know that there is actually something going on, that you have this transient structure there you know you walk in the forest one weekend and you have a mushroom, next weekend it might be already gone to mush, right, so these are very transient: don’t stay very long. But these are the representative structure of the fungus, the spore producing entity that doesn’t stick around for very long. Ok so if you think about how does a fungus survive: how does it get its food? What does it do to make a living? We can generalize and say that there are three types of fungal lifestyles: Ok so fungi, like I mentioned before, can live in in in symbiosis. Symbiosis, so a close living arrangement, and that often tends to be a type of mutualism were both, I should say all partners, could be more than two, in that symbiosis will benefit, right, so with the fungi it will often be a situation where the fungus shares the food with the organism that lives with symbiotically. The next up we have the saprophytic lifestyle. Fungi can be saprobes so they can be- live saprophytically, which means that they essentially grow in their food. They grow in a substrate that they can decompose or degrade, envia degradation they can actually extract their food, their nutrients, out of the degraded matter. Then finally we have fungi that get their nutrients through parasitism, right, so fungi that parasitize other fungi, that parasitize animals or plants or what-have-you, and I’m going to give you a few examples of next of what these three types of fungal lifestyle might look like. So a type of mutualistic symbiosis between a fungus and the plant is called a Mycorrhizae… that’s 65 points.. So if you- if you take a look at the picture here of of the pine seedling up here, you can see that on the on the saplings roots you have some hyphl clusters there so Mycorrhizae refers to the fungi that colonize the roots, the root system of a plant. Ok, in fact, and this is this is crazy when you think about it, it is estimated that about 90% of all vascular plants that live in symbiosis was fungi, 90%! That’s nuts, right, so that’s that’s a ton. That’s a ton so really really important- really important- for the ecosystem. So if we take this apart, right, and we look at the two partners: so fungus and plant in the symbiosis, who’s doing what? You can say that the fungus in in this relationship, also called the microbiota, is actually helping the plant to take up extra nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and also helps it to get some extra water. The plant or the plant partner, also called photobiont, photo as in photosynthesis, right, provides a glucose, or the sugars, to the mushroom. So again the plant gives the fungus sugars and the fungus gives the plants additional access to nutrients in additional water resources. So everyone’s happy. It’s a good deal. I found these close-up pictures here from a paper I came across and I thought this was helpful and just kind of getting another look at the situation. So in this picture here you can see this is a plant root, here you see the root tip, right, and normally you have on the roots these little root hairs. Little structures that help the plan to absorb water and nutrients. In this example actually, the scientist was looking at phosphate uptake by roots, so if you follow the dotted line here, ok, you can see that the root by itself, even with its little extension, the root hairs, it can only reach so far, right, and it can only get the nutrients that are really close, close to it where it grows and we actually called this the depletion zone, right, so this area is where the plant gets its nutrients from. Now if you compare this to a situation where a root is colonized with the mycorrhizal fungus and you can see that in my picture here, in yellow, you can see that through the mycorrhizal associate the plant is actually able to reach beyond the depletion zone and to get more nutrients out of the soil, right, so definitely a big, big plus for plant growth, for plant development, to have these mycorrhizal partners. What this brought to mind for me was cool plant related species when I lived out in Oregon, I’ve actually seen those out there, this orchid is called corallorhiza maculata and it belongs to a group of plants that are considered to be the achlorophyllous plants, meaning that they do not have any chlorophyll and therefore barely undergo photosynthesis, right, so how does this plant get any nutrients? So you can say that it pretty much entirely – it depends on it’s mycorrhizal associate, so this is really cool, so this plant has actually figured out how to survive, pretty much, without photosynthesis, just with the help of mycorrhizal associate. So pretty, pretty cool situation. Let’s take a look at a different fungal lifestyle, parasitism, so there are many many fungal parasites out there that will cause plant diseases. In this example I’ve chosen a fungal parasite that causes a disease in pine trees called white pine blister rust. Remember how you know you’re dealing with a white pine? You get bundles with five needles, right, if you want to identify pines you count the needles. So this is the one with five needles on it and as the disease progresses it can actually… I should start, maybe, at the beginning… Let’s do that. The fungal spores will enter through the needles, ok, you know these little openings in the needles? The stomates. And the fungus can enter through there, get in the needle, and then grow and proliferate and grow into the twigs of the tree, the branches, down into the stem. As you can imagine sometimes it takes a few years to develop, so when you see these orange spore masses from the fungal infection breaking through the bark chances are three to five years post-infection have already taken place so by the time you see these poor mite masses break through the bark of the tree chances are that tree is toast, right, but so this mystery disease has been an issue for over a hundred years and it’s still around. We’re able to manage it a little bit better but, so, it’s around. It’s due to an invasive pathogen. So that’s blister rust. This is gonna be a cool pathogen if you can say that, a cool pathogen, I guess I can. It’s a, it’s a corn smut. The disease is called corn smut by a fungus, caused by a fungus named Ustilago Maydis. Ok and as this fungus infects the corn you can see that the kernels take this crazy mutated shape, right, so this blob here eventually, you know, it will rupture and release fungal spores, but at one point this was actually a normal-looking kernel, alright, so the fungal infection will cause this kernel to take this really weird shape and then, you can see, as you cut this open that there are black spore masses that are developing in there, right. And so eventually this mutated kernel will rupture and release the spores- but another thing that I meant to say was that some people actually collect these mutated kernels and eat it and apparently it tastes really good- has anybody here ever tried that? How do you pronounce this? Okay. I hear it’s good when you fold it in an omelet, is that right? Mexican cuisine, yes, so I’ve never eaten it but it’s definitely on my list. I want to try it. You eat it a lot? Okay, cool, yeah, very good. So you guys give that a try. So this plant disease has the greatest name of all: it’s the stinking smut. Also called the common bunt. You know the plant pathologists, they really.. I don’t know.. they’re pretty creative, I guess. I have not been around this ever so I don’t know how bad it smells. I’m reading on wikipedia that there is a germanic origin of the word ‘smut’ but I also have a germanic origin and I have no idea what they’re referring to! I can’t help you there. Any of this is the stinking smut, it’s a fungus that’s closely related to the one I showed you in the slides before, the corn smut, so this one infects a different plant. This one infects wheat. Ok and you can see, if you take a close up look at the kernels here, that you don’t see the, the, the dense insight that usually see in a kernel. But you also see these black spore masses there. And actually I’m told that when there is an infected wheat field and at the end of summer the wheat gets harvested, that oftentimes you see these large black clouds around the tractor which are actually the spore masses that come out as the wheat is harvested. So yeah, it looks, it looks pretty crazy. So end of summer, next year, keep an eye open for the stinking smut. So here’s another fungal parasite and this one infect animals, particularly amphibians. And this has gotten some press, perhaps some of you have heard about this before, let me see if I can pronounce it batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This one causes amphibian decline so it has actually put a few frog species on the endangered species list in north america. But this is something that has been around the globe, so this is killing amphibians everywhere. So if you look at a close-up here at the histology slide you can see here the spore masses that tend to grow in the outer layers of the skin in amphibians, in the frogs here in this example, and by proliferating in the outer layer of the skin it will actually impair gas exchange in these animals and then ultimately they’re going to die as they are not able to oxygenate sufficiently. So this is a big problem for amphibians worldwide. Then another a fungal parasite that is fairly new, I shouldn’t say newly described, but newly recognized, within the last 10 years or so, this one is called pseudo- gymnoascus destructans. Perhaps you’ve heard about this before by the disease that it causes in bats: white-nose syndrome. Also this fungus was recently renamed formerly it was geomycine destructans so this is a cause of white nose syndrome in bats. So bats, when they hibernate they get infected with this fungal parasite and it tends to grow in the in the nasal cavity of bats, in the in the oral cavities and it actually, it’s a quick, it’s a quick killer for these animals. It’s a bit unique for the fungi in that it likes the cold temperatures so those that you could find in a place where bats would hang out to hibernate, in a cave, right, so 5 to 14 degrees Celsius. It has been shown that there’s animal to animal transmission of this pathogen, which of course is a problem. And then it has also been shown that certain debris that accumulates in a cave or also bad feces that that that is a source of inoculum and that that can spread the disease. So again that’s a big problem in North America it has put a few species of bats on the endangered species list. So a big problem. I guess one thing I can do is, I guess, public service announcement: I don’t know how many of you guys go actively caving but, so, I guess one thing people can do is try to stay out of caves if you know that bats are hibernating in there. If you take gear into a cave be sure to really thoroughly clean that when you’re done or better yet don’t transported from one cave to another cave. Yeah so white nose syndrome a big big problem with bats in North America. Interestingly this pathogen exists all over Europe. It has been isolated from the nasal cavity, respiratory cavity in bats- in Europe it does not kill European bats- it’s a killer for North American animals or North American bats, I should say so, there is some research that focuses on that these days. So hopefully we can get a little bit better at understanding here soon. One more parasite the group of fungi in the genus malassezia, well-known by veterinarians so they cause a lot of issues on pets. Skin issues on dogs, cats, sometimes can see that also in goats and sheep. So vets see this one a lot around here so there’s all kinds of other fungal diseases on humans but I don’t have the time to go through all of these so that will be another cafe. Ok so lastly the third group of fungal lifestyles, ok, would be fungi acting as decomposers. Ok so think about it, fungus grows on dead organic matter and is able to degrade that, is able to decompose that, right, so if you think about it these – the fungal decomposers are actually a way to clean up, a way to clean up the ecosystem, right, think about a tree falls in the forest fungus goes on top of it, degrades it, feeds itself, and in the process frees up nutrients out of that complex woody structure that are then made available for the rest of the ecosystem. So fungi can decompose organic matter and I put a little diagram here and perhaps it’s difficult to make out the details, let me give you the takeaway point here: if we start with the green arrow, green as in photosynthesis, right, you can see that photosynthesis plants take in atmospheric carbon dioxide makes glucose, right, makes- from glucose we get more complex organic compounds. Okay, see so again it compounds, eventually die then, and are degraded by fungi. The fungi will break down these compounds, eventually all the way down back to co2 and return the co2 back to the atmosphere. So you can see that fungi and their decomposer activity, their degrading activity are really important for the ecosystem and proper ecosystem functioning. So fungi can degrade all kinds of dead organic matter, whether that’s dung, whether it’s fruit, apples, right, bread, animal cadavers, whether it’s wood, or the dead cells under your toenails fungi can go and make a living out of that. So, yeah, it’s amazing! So how do fungi do that? And this is how i’m gonna start telling you about the stuff that that I do for living these days. So I study the fungi that can degrade and decompose wood, right, and this is essentially based on a unique feature of fungi, in that they secrete enzymes particularly at the hyhpyl tip. So what’s an enzyme? I guess the simple explanation will be about a molecule that’s made by the fungus that can degrade complex structures. Ok so enzymes are basically the chemicals that help to degrate more complex structures. So these enzymes are made in the fungus, right, and usually fungi have large sweets of enzymes, so many many different kinds, different groups, ok, and they secrete these enzymes into their environment, right, and these enzymes will then degrade the environment and free of nutrients, smaller molecules, smaller particles, that can then be absorbed by the fungus. So when I teach this to my undergrads, I would usually say: think about this as having a stomach on the outside or something like that, right, so where we have our stomach juices on the inside, digest there, well a fungus will release these into the environment, right, and essentially break down the environment that it lives in, or on, and then absorb the nutrients that are freed. This is also called sometimes a heterotrophic type of nutrition or absorptive nutrition. Ok and so is that. I’m going to show you the next slide here, which is a little bit more of an application of what I would do in lab, so I’m working closely with some ideas from the DOE, the department of energy, with people there who have thought out these these conversion plans that are depicted here. A few of these are in use but not a whole lot at these- at this time. And the idea was to use woody biomass, so you know, timber. You can- you can use leftover wood pieces, you can use stumps or whatever, whatever woody biomass you come around. You could even use switchgrass or you could use corn stover, the leftover corn plant, after you harvest the corn you could use all of these as an input to basically generate biofuel or specifically, in this case, bio-ethanol from that woody biomass that we can then use for downstream applications. So the plan here from the Department of Energy was that up here we bring all woody biomass right we bring it into the plant and step one actually, labeled step 2 here, so after the input, step two: we would need a pretreatment that requires this really nasty acid input, right, so we would have to put a Sulfuric acid in then the pH would go down to 1.5 and then you would heat it at super high temperatures for a while. As you can imagine you have all this chemical, you have all that heat, so you need to build a facility that can withstand all that and and that is is pretty, pretty expensive. After this takes place we move into the next, essentially, the next pretreatment of all woody biomass which is called conditioning: requires a ton more chemicals, requiring heating again, and the idea is that these first two pretreatments can break down the large molecules in the woody biomass into smaller pieces that enzymes then can act on and actually, through enzymatic activity, free the glucose, the sugars, that is stored away in the woody biomass. Okay and that is also called Saccharification step so once you break down the big chunks into smaller chunks, then get them even smaller, you’ll throw some enzymes in there and finally get the glucose out right and once the glucose comes out we go to step 4, where essentially we ferment these sugars, the glucose, and then get ethanol, right, so this is what the DOE has proposed as a more sustainable way to make ethanol, right. Now the people in my lab have actually figured out there’s a better way to do this and so researchers I work with have proposed this idea: that all these pretreatments that are really costly that are kind of toxic, kind of harsh, would be replaced by fungi because essentially that is what decomposer fungi do. They break down complex woody biomass, right, break it down in the into smaller chunks and then free the sugars, right. Fungi do it to feed themselves, they want to get the glucose to feed themselves, but what if we employ those fungi, in this idea, from the DOE to make ethanol in more sustainable ways. So this is the idea on what we currently work on. Okay and so yeah, so all these steps could be replaced with fungal activity. And so the the fungus the wood decomposer, specifically, that I work with is called postia placenta, it actually, it’s funny, it has become such a lab workhorse fungus, a lot of people use it in labs, but you don’t see it a whole lot in nature anymore. And you know this is what it would look like so it’s pretty nondescript kind of crusty looking, so you know, nothing exciting like a fun purple mushroom that you’ve seen earlier, but anyway. So this is Postia it- it is grouped in with a group of fungi called the brown rot fungi, they’re called brown rotters, as they degrade woody biomass they leave this brown woody residue behind. One unique characteristic with- characteristic- these guys also is that they induce rapid strength loss in woods So you really don’t want this on building materials, right, if you have this on your deck or porch so things would pretty rapidly collapse after the fungus gets in there. But because it causes this rapid strength loss in wood, it has become attractive to scientists as they are trying understand: how come it’s acting so quickly? How can it modify wood so efficiently? Right and so from-from that perspective it’s a really attractive fungus to work with in lab. So now this is what I see every day it’s not that exciting really, I guess but, so here’s my pure culture and grow my little postia, a nutrient agar, throw a piece of a popsicle stick in there, just to keep it happy you know, because it likes to degrade stuff. Um this is how I make sure I grow the fungus and nothing but the fungus right so i look at it and make sure it’s a pure culture then I’ll take the pure culture or pieces of it and put it in a mason jar mason jars are so good even in the lab seriously it’s good stuff you put some soil at the bottom just the fungus doesn’t grow in the soil it’s just there is moisture question ok but the fungus on top and then a place these Aspen wafers in there and by propping them diagonally i’m forcing the fungus to grow up in just one direction up the wafer looks really simple surprisingly takes a long time to do so what is it that I’m actually after here what am I trying to do so this fungus post it has been around for awhile right and heaven has been studied well and we even know what enzymes it makes to degrade would write so there are a couple hundred enzymes and those have actually been well described still we don’t know enough to make use of it efficiently in that de application pitch right for for the production of bio ethanol so my focus now is when and where these enzymes secreted by the fungus that are actually enabling the wood degradation process so you could call it if you wanted to sound fancy spatial temporal resolution that’s what I’m trying to get it ok and so like I said in in these mason jars and grow the fungus up one direction ok and then I make a couple cuts you can see that here in this mycelium make it actually I got too busy i actually only know make two cuts no more than three cuts and thinks that I pay attention to is the top of the high feet where we find the younger mycelium remember grows up so youngest mycelium on top all this mycelium or oldest hyphy at the bottom so i pay attention to where I harvest my tissues from and so why am i doing that why is that interesting because we have found out that different enzymes are released at different times and in different places in the mycelium guess it makes sense right if you think about the human body you just don’t produce your body doesn’t produce the same type of molecule in the brain in your brain that would produce in your foot right so it makes sense that different parts of the body produce different molecules so but you’re paying attention to that and it’s nice this is a nice system we know a lot about it already I even know the structure the DNA bases off the enzyme or i should say the gene the part of the fungal genome that encodes that enzyme even know what that looks like so I i got that I got the letter code for those jeans and because i have that information i can make a probe that will selectively bind to the expression off the gene in the hyphy that grows on here does that make sense it kinda ok so I know what enzymes I’m looking for right I know what they’re called I even know what the gene region and the fungal genome looks like you know the genetic code right so you’ve got the bases got the code i know that that is in the literature anybody can read about that ok but what we don’t know is when and where would we find these enzymes right when and where so my spatial temporal resolution would I find the more in the younger my Celia or would i find them in the older my Celia is that help yeah ok cool so I made these fluorescent probes ok I’m think about it perhaps is a magnet that has a bright bright color attached to it in this magnet is designed to only attached to this gene region of interest gene region of interest that makes that enzyme of interest right so I slap those all together in lab and it actually found my little magnet my little tag here i found out that it works so in yellow here is a stained the hyphy yellow in red you can see my enzymatic i should say my gene region of interest right so i know that the gene is activated right there at that part in the mycelium so it’s good to know system works now I just have to apply it let’s move it up a notch so now here we got a cross-section of a piece of wood that had been infected or had been inoculated was my fungus was my posterior right in green whoops think about the grain of the wood so essentially green the grain of the wood in yellow you can see the fungal hyphy so again i stained all these with certain colors you can see that the fungal hyphy grows pretty much parallel to the grain of the wood so then I slept my tags my little magnets was a red dye on here again and now I already get a little bit better resolution in this piece of wood i can see actually i have that marked I think you can find my my little magnets here it’s hard to see it on there in three locations so I have advanced I i like to think i have already advanced the probe works on it binds to the gene region of interest what I have to do next I i need to to quantify it so how much of the signal do i get and can i make a statement from reliable data so data that i can represent this right and that can I actually publish and tell to the public that makes me that enables me to say enzyme a is only secreted up here when the mycelium is 48 hours old enzyme be is only secreted here when the mycelium is three weeks all right so I want to know when and where these enzymes are released and was the staining this fluorescent staining technique I think I i have a methodology that’s going to help me to do that so again why is this important because we want to know when in what part of the process to add a particular fungal enzyme right so remember we have several pretreatments here that we want to replace with the fungus and then eventually we have this the step that Exxon the smaller molecules that were generated right so I want to figure out when to add which fungal enzyme in the process here and so I’m just getting started on it it will probably take me a couple more years to figure it out and perhaps in the process of might get a PhD will ok you’ll see so this is all i have for now I thought I’m going to let Catherine go next and then if you have questions take those at the end thank you ok so i’m dr. Catherine Bush Lee and the new professor at the University of Minnesota i actually came from oregon state university also so also love oregon and i hope i didn’t she didn’t scare you away with those long technical introduction to me but i think i could have said it in a one-liner I study invertebrate pathogenic fungi and tonight I’m going to tell you a little bit more about insect pathogens they’re probably some of the coolest ones I out there they belonged there not mushrooms everybody that that’s that’s exciting everybody thinks or what what do you think of when you hear the word fungus first thing that comes to mind mushroom so I do not study mushrooms I study things that are called ascomycete that cat talked about that are asking my seats are the molds that you see in your bathroom those little great things in the shower and they pretty much grow as hyphy although they do also have a sexual stage and these really cool structures are the sexual stage of an insect pathogen so they’re essentially the mushroom these these spines orange spines coming out of the insect and they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes this is one called cordyceps militaris and this is the the famous fungus that that I’m she couldn’t pronounce earlier known as to why palladium inflate them there you go and it’s it’s fruiting body is up here and and all of the spores are produced in these structures so these sexual like just like a mushroom has lots of spores these fruiting bodies also produce a lot of spores um i thought i would actually just start with a video on I how many people have seen this video from the bbc1 only 12 okay well then that’s 34 ok this is a really classic video on it it starts with a fungus called ophiocordyceps you know lateralis there’s another one and it’s a pathogen of ants in tropical rainforests also known as the zombie fungus how many people have heard of the zombie fungus ok more people have heard of the song be fungus good so I’m just going to go ahead and play this it’s a really nice an introduction to the insect pathogens ok so so so you can see how beautiful and amazing these fungi are how many people are sold on the court assets yay okay um so here’s a few additional species this is the cordyceps militaris that i showed you before which is a bright fleshy shaped fruit body this is actually a fungus that i collected in China it’s also an ophiocordyceps I think that’s a pretty good scrabble word to what do you think Newton’s but this is parasitizing a scarab beetle and these two long structures here the fruit body and here’s to lapic lady him inflate them um it’s actually coming out of a log so these little white blobs here are the fruiting body and if you took a knife and you kind of like gouged in and dug dug down into the log you might find a poor dead beetle down there probably would find a poor dead people down there but you’ll notice that these structures are really kind of optimized to spread spores and to infect new insects and that’s in fact really that their purpose is to get up there high in the canopy or get out where they can release their spores and infect new insects as cat was talking about these so these are ascomycete fungi and they also have a this the insect pathogens belong to a group of fungi that have different hosts and different lifestyles so there are actually some at the base of this group that our plant pathogens or plant in by ants there the vegetarians of the group and then there are some shown in blue here that are parasites of other fungi or their micro vegas and finally down here we have a shift to what are the true the true meters the insect and insect and also invertebrate pathogens so things like nematodes rotifers and many different insect species um so you might ask what good are insect hunter they’re really cool they live in the tropical forest why why should we care about them so I’m gonna tell you a little bit today about there’s their use as in medicine as traditional and in my hand in modern Western medicine so why French pharmacists need to have training in mycology could talk about the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine and also the cordyceps fungus from china also called the caterpillar fungus which has a lot of potential health benefits and the second use of insect pathogens is potentially as control biocontrol of insect pests so sir david attenborough talked about how um in the tropical forest these fungi can sort of control insect populations from going out of control we can also exploit that and use some of these funny guys to try to control insect populations that have gone out of control as a practical application um so first let’s talk about the the Chinese caterpillar fungus also known as well it’s now OVO cordyceps sinensis I actually spent about a year in china i’m studying this fungus and some other insect pathogens um they I’ll tell you in a minute that they are very specific pathogens of a moth species and they’re also very valuable so this is a collector from Yunnan Province China and here he’s cleaning is collected all of these specimens this is probably about I would say it’s like close to when it gets finally get to market its close to a thousand dollars worth of fungus here and he’s cleaning them here and then he’s gonna sell them to a middle man who’s going to sell them to a fancy shop in Beijing or is going to export them here to the United States um and over the course of census has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine for over 300 years so it has a long history of medicinal use in China and also to button medicine it’s recently been discovered by the Western alternative medicine market you may have seen some of these in the steward co-op no less for their volunteers and it is an incredibly valuable fungus it it probably by weight people have said that it’s it’s equal to gold by weight so it it brings in huge revenues in China a total harvest of upwards of a hundred tons and us 225 million dollars in just the Tibetan Autonomous Region so that’s a very valuable fungus um it also has a lot of really beneficial health benefits um it was first uh well was first discovered by us the Western world in hum 1993 when some chinese athletes and participated in in 1993 games and I think about three or four of their women long-distance runners beat the world record by 15 to 30 seconds which is huge in the world of running and so everybody wanted to know how what what how was that how are they training and it turns out they were actually eating this cordyceps a broth of this courtship smush room everyday also training at high altitude that probably helped too but that’s sort of when interest in this fungus in the Western world arose right around 1993 it’s also known as Himalayan viagra it a stimulates male sexual ability who we could say it also has immune stimulating properties it’s there are some polysaccharide components that may actually have anti-tumor and antiviral activity so actually be really useful and treatment of cancers its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant and it also has been shown to lower blood sugar so some people would say it’s kind of the panacea a panacea fungus and it’s been used in traditional chinese medicine to treat lung kidney and liver disorders primarily um a little about its ecology so it is a very rare fungus and now it’s actually endangered so rare that it’s endangered and it grows only above 3,000 meters on the Tibetan Plateau so this is its habitat this is a this is actually not a yak believe it or not it’s something called is 0 which is a cross between a yak in a water buffalo I think I learned something but these are just alpine grasslands and hear some these this is a picture that was taken by some of my chinese collaborators of local people that most of the harvesting is actually done by local villagers in check throughout China and here’s people on a pretty steep slope just bending down these are very small fungi that grow out of the grass and they’re trying to find them all along this slope this is the moth that it parasitized it’s a what’s called a pilot moth there’s 57 different species that it can parasitize it’s kind of an interesting phenomenon and this is its life cycle and so this is where you learn a little bit more about insect parasitism on that I study in my lab and in Chinese it’s called songs yall towel which means or translates to winter worm summer grass and that actually very accurately reflects its life style in the winter so this is an it’s a burrowing insects that the larvae on live underground and they actually eat plant roots and so in the late autumn here’s a quarter steps fruit body producing all of those spores and those if those happened to land on a poor little RV here it will become infected and over the winter it its living in the soil and like the ophiocordyceps unilateral asst zombie fungus it does actually cause a behavioral change so the larvae during winter actually Orient’s itself with its head pointed up and a certain distance from the soil surface how it knows how to do that I have no idea but the reason the fungus is very likely manipulating that behavior because what happens it overwinters like that and in early spring the fungus will sprout out of its head and start growing straight upwards bursting through the soil and producing its fruiting body that will release more sports so here’s the fruiting this is in summer it’ll grow and then release more spores and infect more larbi so winter worm summer grass and they do really look a lot like little blades they’re very difficult to find actually as I discovered when I went to the field in China they’re just very small little blade little brown structures in and in alpine great grass um and so it does also have both a sexual and asexual cycle and that’s something that’s very common for actually most funds I and in fact mycologist have been laughed at by the rest of biologists for having two different names for fungi we oftentimes name the asexual cycle something different from the sexual cycle now we’re getting rid of that we would but but for a long time we often had two names for the asexual and the sexual fungus so the sexual fungus is in fact this fruit body that’s coming out of the insect so it only this fungus only mates or only had sex inside of an insect that’s the only time it can actually mate and produce this fruit body that produces sexual sports and then can infect more modest but it also can grow as hyphy so these are these are the hyphy that cat showed you and you know it can grow in a petri plate it’s very slow-growing I have to say takes about a month to grow on a petri plate and those will produce asexual spores and can also just propagate themselves um interestingly that so if you go to if you go to the sewer coop for example what you probably will find in the supplement department is actually the mycelial form of this fungus so there there’s a isolated the mycelial form from one of these spores and grew in a petri plate and now most of the supplements in the US are actually produced from the mycelial form and their those have been tested but there is some debate about whether the caterpillar for might actually be more potent might have more activity than the mycelium so that’s a interesting fact that not very many people know um but there is a real problem with just continuing to harvest this fungus in the wild because it is highly endangered and because it’s worth so much money people overharvested on it’s really actually pretty much the source of income for many rural people in china so they spend their summers collecting this fungus and hope to survive on that for the rest of the year and unfortunately um so this is amateur this is actually a diagram from another researcher daniel winkler who’s also done a lot of research on this fungus and this is sort of diagramming the development of the fruit bodies so here is young fruit body just coming out of the soil here it’s growing a little bit bigger and here it’s finally mature and it has a lot of spores on the tip and this is amateur sports drama and it can release up to 40,000 of these spores every day so it’s just spewing spores into the environment and remember that these are the spores that will actually infect new insects in the soil and so if we pick the fungus before it reaches the stage where actually sort of potentially decreasing infections and decreasing the production of new infected barbie and unfortunately some people prefer to pick the fungus before it reaches this stage and so that’s actually a real problem and these are more valuable they’re worth more money and in the end economics has one who and so it is in fact now endangered it’s only found on the edges of the Tibetan Plateau so on the rim in china in northern India kpop nepal and bhutan and I when I was in China actually worked on some of its population biology so trying to understand the genetic diversity across this whole range or the southern range and it turns out that this is a hotspot for the diversity of the fungus in this southern region of China but i think it is going to be very important that that they try to preserve some of this natural fungus in the environment because it is a very unique research since a very valuable resource ok so with that I’m going to completely shift gears well not completely so I’ve been talking a little bit about medicinal uses of some of these funds I’m and now I’m gonna go a little get a little bit more technical and talk about secondary compounds of insect pathogenic fungi i’ll start with something that hopefully most people are familiar with penicillin how many people are familiar with penicillin okay good penicillin was the first antibiotic to be discovered um and it was in fact from a fungus penicillium fungus and this is also a decomposer here it’s growing on an orange and these are the these are the spores that it’s producing and here’s the compound penicillin penicillin is a class is produced by these this fancy enzyme non ribosomal peptides in the taste we can call it an nrps that is easier let’s just call it in an rps and these are one class of fungal metabolites and the reason that they’re interesting is that they don’t they produce peptides so how many people know what a peptide is a few people so so peptide a protein is a peptide and it’s made of individual units called amino acids these nrps is produce peptides or strings of amino acids but they don’t do it the usual way like most proteins they actually produce a protein that is called the nrps and then this protein is producing all of these small peptides just by putting together the amino acids themselves so pet things like penicillin I’m gonna talk about cyclosporin which is also produced by a non ribosomal peptide synthesis ace nrps and then there are also compounds like her gotta mean which is it’s an ergot alkaloid it was thought to potentially be involved in causing the Salem witch trials way back in 17th 18th century um cyclosporin and this is also just to illustrate that we really don’t know very much about out the metabolites that fund i produce and that if fungi in our backyard may actually have some use um cyclosporin is a cyclic peptide so if we broke this down there would actually be 11 amino acids composing it in a circle so it’s cyclic and it is a very important immunosuppressant drug it’s pretty much everybody who has an organ transplant gets to take cyclosporine it prevents rejection of organs and it just keeps the immune system under control it was isolated from a fungus that was collected from a soil sample in a national park in Norway there was a employee from of sand as pharmaceuticals who went on vacation in Norway and he went to this beautiful national park and took a little baggy soil brought it back to the lab and they isolated fungi from it and then started testing these fungi for their activity and they’re there against medical activity this is the fungus and topic lady inflate them when we all say that to light book lady among in lay down okay but it’s kind of beautiful and it’s actually named so tool up the inflated part is actually based on the spores so this is the asexual fungus here and if you notice the spores on the end here and this structure has sort of an inflated base its kind of pear shape so it’s like like that and the spores on the tip and so the name inflate them comes from that particular structure so this is the asexual form so these are high fee these are highfill forms and they grow everywhere in soil so that’s this was what was isolated from that soil sample here it is infecting a beetle i think i showed you this earlier here’s the fruiting body with the spores on top um sadly this is what remains of the beetle right here it is yeah it barely recognize the ball and it’s grown out of that and if this were often times it does in fact insects and would so if this were embedded in Woodall you would actually see these two little white fluffs on the top here and it’s grown out so that can actually disperse its pores through the forest um so this drug was it was they basically sort of grew up the fungus extracted chemicals from it and then tested them for all kinds of activities and really found that this some compound from this fungus had a very strong immunosuppressant function they identified it identified its structure and it really did revolutionize organ transplantation in medicine so this is the first kidney transplant um i think back in 1954 maybe but up until cyclosporine came around this was really a a risky procedure you know you got a new kidney there was maybe a fifty percent chance that you would reject it with the cotton the use of cyclosporine starting in the early nineteen eighties it became a much more routine and I mean it’s still not a good it’s still a little worrisome to have a kidney transplant but most people survive most people keep their organs and and can live a productive life because of its immune properties it’s also used to treat autoimmune disorders so things like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis things like that this is its lifecycle this is a little complicated I that’s one thing you’ll learn if you study fungi will have to memorize all kinds of crazy life cycles and this is one of them so here’s again is the sexual state producing sexual spores those can in those actually have to drill their way through through an insect cuticle so the outer covering of an insect they have to get inside and here is shown a high fee that’s actually like penetrating right through the outside cuticle right here and that’s sort of like the infection stage so you’ve got in order to be a pathogen of an insect you have to get inside once you’re inside though your your strategy is to grow really rapidly and try to kill your insect basically and interestingly inside of an insect this fungus no longer grows as hyphy it turns into what are called blasto spores so if you see these little round blobs here those are blasted spores and this is essentially like a yeast so these will but in half they’ll split in half and make more blasted spores and more blasters fours and more blasted spores and those can travel through blood through insect blood really rapidly and sort of get everywhere insect and interestingly many human pathogens also do this so once they get inside their hosts they become this yeast phase and then just travel everywhere through through their host so likely this fungus also produces some compounds that eventually kill the insect and here’s a poor larbi that got infected and mummified on the right with the fungus and the and now the fungus is growing out of it and but these are actually a sexual so that it hasn’t actually produce the sexual form um and we now know that cyclosporin probably does serve a function of actually suppressing the insect immune system so we know in humans that it attacks a particular molecule and stops the production of these immune compounds called interleukins in insects on this is a control and this is a insect treated with cyclosporine and this is the insect I mean response it produces some compounds that are antibacterial peptides and also some called lysozymes and you’ll see that in the cyclosporine treated incited it produces a lot less of them so this is a normal insect and this is one treated with cyclosporin so it’s it’s also inhibiting the immune response of an insect and that’s probably it’s it’s real function in the world is to cause the insect to die or to and inhibit its immune response um so I’m gonna actually show another short video this is this is one of my favorite videos it’s really really funny and um this is sort of a segue into the use of these fungi as for biocontrol agents but it’s also going to talk about this process of insect pathogenesis and the role of metabolites in that process and it’s a fungus called beauveria bassiana and it’s it’s a very good pathogen of a wide range of insects and it has there’s actually a commercial product that’s a biocontrol agent their spores it’s like a powder and mix it up in water and spray it on your tomato plants and hopefully prevent them from being eaten by insects are infected by fungi so does that it does have some promising uses so here we go it’s just really funny but Mellie above is an important insect pests of Casavant island adult meal ebooks can they 100 to 500 eggs and XX which developed into the first simple stage within eight days and in smoke three times so the insect is the life cycle of 21 days the million bugs are transferred from plant to plant by answer with the insects dwell under the leaves and suck plant step mealybugs spread and dry and warm conditions they’re able to damage custom fields in a short period of time as an alternative to chemical insecticides intima pathogenic fungi including variable Sandhya can be used as a natural means of insect control by using topical application of fungal spores various spores land on the mealy bugs with high humidity sports germinate and penetrate the insects cuticle the early infection sells out I full bodies are blasted scores are formed inside the better the yeast that the East bands right there highfill bodies inside the insect’s body innate immune system is ready to defend against the invading packages insect hemocytes would be a major line of defense and the fungal side secondary metabolites play crucial roles in insect pathogenesis such as avoiding the insect immune response as taxes for killing insects our previous phylogeny identified two polyketide synthase jeans highly conserved for intimate pathogenic fungi including a ps3 andy Katz to be here also studying the roles of a non ribosomal peptide synthesis g4s an insect got the Genesis TKS three consistent quito synthesis Siddle transfer is an acyl carrier protein three principal government PKS to be similar to pk’s 3accepted does not contain in oil reductase non-riders oma peptide synthesis 4s is a range and imagine other structure each module consists of ventilation violation condensation donuts we studied the function of the three genes by disrupting each chain of the selectable market selectable marker interactive investor the translated protein becomes truncated non-functional can see that the Thai boxers now tied up the soldiers gun is broken the drill is broken but you get the point that the the metabolites are important when you when you get rid of them you no longer have an insect pathogen and so that’s actually one of the main things that I’m interested in my lab is trying to understand what some of these metabolites are from these fungi and what’s their function um and finally I just wanted to mention another so these are related to the insect pathogens they’re actually pathogens of nematodes and we have I have a project in the lab where we are looking at fungi that parasitized the soybean cyst nematode how many people have heard of the soybean cyst nematode one okay there you go so people who have farmed in Minnesota know about the soybean cyst nematode it is in fact a pretty big pathogen of soybean and there are really very many good control method mechanisms and so what what we’re studying is we’re trying to isolate some fungi that are parasites of the nematode that we might be able to apply to soil apply to the plants and protect them from nematodes and these are also very cool fun day they there are some that are trapped nematodes so they actually have a little ring and if an edited swims through that ring it will constrict and trap them very very very cool others have these the kind of setup fishing nets in the soil where if an epitope gets trapped in there it will also be trapped and eaten so these funds i actually eat the nematodes nematodes are very good nitrogen sources and they may eat them and they’re also structures called sticky knobs they imitates chips swims by they can actually stick to one of these things and then also some that get into the worm and and kill them and some that attack eggs so I have just one more little video of a porn metode being trapped by by the ring here so there’s this is the most this is the nemah toad trapping structure and here’s a poornima toad that’s gotten trapped anyway he’s not getting out ok so with that I guess we will take any questions and thank you all for coming tonight great is your hand up right over here baby actually i’m dating myself I think it was probably a Maynard Spees farm report back in the fifties ok but my question is is any of this applicable to fighting pine board beetle out in the Rockies 2 i’m sorry in it is any of this applicable to fighting things like pine for people out in the Rockies yeah potentially i mean i think we don’t know enough about the fungal symbiont of the pine beetle yet but yes I think maybe I should look into that yeah i’m actually studying the emerald ash borer a little bit yeah trying to just understand what it’s microbial somebody else are so so I have a question for cat yeah coming up Kat Kat you you showed of an orchid that you described as non-photosynthetic or almost non-synthetic how does it produce anything it must be a primary producer in order to give sugar presumably to it’s a fungal symbian so not all that up to speed on my botany skills but i understand it lacks chlorophyll but still has a few other pigments and I guess they give it that it will give it that red color and so those pigments I think are helpful and undergoing a low level low producing level of photosynthesis so this some but perhaps you know about it but is not a whole lot yeah i think actually the plant may steal sugars from the fungus third of a reverse reverse symbiosis heard that not necessarily beneficial for the fungus somehow it’s it’s gotten the plant has evolved to get some of it sugars from the fungus so it doesn’t need to photosynthesize sugar the fungus can make sugar you know it degrades it degrades these compounds takes them up and breaks them down into glucose yeah is it mutualism but I don’t know it is white pine blister rust found in urban situations to our only in the greater pine forest isolated pine trees in the city for example mhm it i think if you’ve seen it in an urban setting so it’s it’s something that seems to affect mostly in fact sorry mostly younger trees and also treeset all clustered together in a timber stand situation but now I have definitely seen it in an urban setting and you may if you’re familiar with this pathogen is a complex life cycle that involves actually fungal proliferation on on a different plan which would be the right keys plant and in the thirties is that right i believe there was this huge private education program that they had in place to make sure that the fungus cannot proliferate anymore on that alternate host we call it on on that plant but so yes it definitely did show up in the city’s not not so much as you would see it in in like a timber stand have you seen it around No mhm so can you answer the big debate amongst mushroom collectors whether they’re ruining the the mushrooms I collecting them or as long as the micro rise a stay below the leaf litter level collecting the fruiting structure is ok I fight with my husband about this all the time so if you can solve this one I’d be much appreciated you okay you okay you want me to my personal opinion and i’ll catch it is that is that it probably does in in mushrooms it probably doesn’t have a huge impact because mushrooms produce a lot of spores and they also can produce multiple mushrooms during the season I mean I think if you strip the land of all mushrooms that would be a problem but I think at the level i mean that I think that’s one reason why they have you know collection limits in some places in the United States like in the western US they have to have a permit you can only collect so many mushrooms they offer comment on that ok so I’m friend catherine and i am not a scientist but I’m a mushroom collective have collected and studied mushroom since I was five years old and I’ve been a commercial collective in upstate New York and my experience has been even the places that I my favorite spot that i can get to like every day every other day and pick really heavily pic thoroughly I cannot keep up with all the mushrooms so vile passions porcini splashing they might go for a week to two weeks or so and go every other day every half right to write mushroom there’s always something to get away so yeah I suspected except maybe different in Europe with hundreds of people out picking the generally is very hard to get all the Muslims and just been tricky situation was no more production and mushroom mycelium is still living underground continually whether you’re picking the muscle yeah I think that’s one what actually i just want to point out that’s one major difference between mushrooms and the cordyceps fungus so the cordyceps fungus is very much an obligate pathogen so it doesn’t survive well in soil and so it really only lives inside its insect host and so in that sense it doesn’t have the ability to survive outside the host whereas my Celia are everywhere they’re living on tree roots if you probably the worst thing you could do would be to cut down all the trees that that would have a huge effect but it had their have that they’re just haven’t been that many studies on this but there have been a few out in Oregon actually but I don’t think they’ve ever shown that it’s had a huge impact so what’s your what’s your stance no I i think you’re right i think you should pick all of them yeah I support you are there any concerns like environmental threats to fungi like from chemicals in the environment or climate change we can think about a few things maybe um you know growing up in Germany growing up in Europe and you may recall in 86 it was trainable that blew up and ever since then pretty much the Germans stop picking mushrooms because you know mushrooms tend to take up environmental things right whether there was a heavy metals in that case it was nuclear fallout and and you know i’m not sure if that is still the rule that’s in place it could be i think it was more so after the nuclear followed but but so as far as picking mushrooms yeah you know it would keep an eye on where you’re picking your your specimens on let’s let’s see what else did you ask is as far as like climate change you thinking or the fungus in danger because of different environment yeah i mean i would say yes because what I mean there are I think there’s unfortunately the fungi kind of leg behind the the charismatic megafauna in and being represented as endangered species and actually the cordyceps fungus what I think was the first fungus to be listed as an endangered species in the world and now we have now there are sort of efforts in a lot of different countries to do surveys and identify rare fungi and we’re finding that yes in fact some of them are being are threatened and I think to talk about climate change the cordyceps fungus is a really good example because um there’s actually a well for one thing their habitat is decreasing because they only can live they also live at a very low temperature they grow best at four degrees celsius at very high mountain tops and so as climate warms it’s actually moving is actually potentially going to get rid of their habitat if if it warms to the top of these mountains and there are also parasites there’s there’s been found a parasite that is able to grow on the cordyceps and kill it that grows that warming climate may be promoting and so I think that that yes Hungarian are endangered in that sense and there may also be changes in the fungal community underground like in the microbial communities in the agricultural soil communities we may have we may be seeing some ships in what types of fungi are dominant in those communities so i think it is it is a big issue so it seems like in most of the cases the cordyceps is modifying the host behavior has anyone study what it’s actually doing to do that and if you know they could like take those and throw them in mice or something and manipulate the neurotransmitters of mice for them in my studio yeah just like how does how does that work is anyone studying yet no I student i mean i’m interested in studying that I’m I think it’s pretty interesting question there’s there’s actually a group of researchers at penn state university that are stored studying the zombie fungus and they’re trying to identify the actual compound that might be involved in changing and so basic that’s called summit disease so the funk the fungus causes it to climb to a very high place where once it makes the fruiting body it can spread spores everywhere and that’s sort of its adaptive behavior but we don’t know yet we don’t know what that what that is but we hope to find out in the near future so if we sorry think of mushrooms I always thought the spore from a mushroom was an asexual successfully created spore but that is not true it could be sexual or asexual two types of that the mushroom spores are our sexual sports so they’re so i guess it the way to think about it is that the mushroom is sort of the sexual fruiting body and all the spores produced on it are produced through meiosis or sexually but if you take a piece of the mushroom and try to grow it that will that will grow a sexually so are there asexual spores in a mushroom in anything well yeah so in that in the ass coat the ASCO my seeds are mostly asexual they grow as hyphy most of the time very rarely actually most of these insect pathogens are very difficult to find they very rarely made if you think about having to find an insect in the tropical forest and infect it to mate it’s actually pretty rare phenomenon so they dominant they usually use asexual spores but mushrooms ten not to have as many asexual spores they produce more sexual spores great okay thanks everybody for coming we’ll see you at the next cafe in November thanks to a cat and pattern for talking tonight