Headline November 02 2019/ '' '*FUNGAL INTERNET FURIOUS' ''



FUNGUS AMONG US: It has no stomach, eyes or mouth but can seek out and digest its favourite food................

IN 2014 SCIENTISTS DIGGING in the Canadian arctic found a billion-year-old fossil of a fungus  they named Ourasphaira giraldae.

When thinking about the implication if its age, please note that the first dinosaurs only appeared a    mere 270 million years ago and the discovery basically upends everything we thought we knew about how life on earth evolved.

UNTIL NOW WE THOUGHT THAT fungi and plants acted mostly together to colonise the surface of the earth, but given that the oldest plant fossils only date back some 470 million years, this means that the fungi were first.

This, in turn, means that the animals [closely linked to fungi in the 'tree of life' may also have appeared on earth far earlier than we imagined.

WHILE WE ARE FAMILIAR WITH the descendants of this ancient fungus mould, yeasts and mushrooms [magic and otherwise], it may come as a surprise that it is also related to the largest living organism in the world.

NO, that's not the blue whale but is in fact the ARMILLARIA OSTOYAE, which is also appropriately dubbed the 'humongous fungus'.

Humongous because not only does it weigh over 400 tons, the single organism covers about 2,385 acres in Oregon's Malheur National Forest.

THAT'S close to four square kilometres, a size little larger than Male, the capital city of Maldives and it was alive and kicking around the time Socrates was born. It, and other giants fungi.

[Yes there are quiet a few ............. that we know of] live largely underground, and feed and multiply by literally sucking the life out of the trees in the forests where they live and planting their spores in the rotting husks.

IF you think that's rather unpleasant, then you haven't met the downright evil Ophicordyceps unilateralis, the zombie-ant fungus.

This sinister 'shroom not only invades ants' cells but also creates its own linked networks inside the ants' body, killing its neurons and forcing it to move and act according to the fungus wishes.

These franken-ants then find an appropriate plant and sink their jaws into the leaves at the precise height dictated by these body-snatching fungi and wait there while the fungal stalks sprout out of its body to rain down spores on other, unsuspecting ants.

Nature certainly does give-off serial killer vibes sometimes.

And if that is not mind-blowing enough, did you know that fungi can also act like an internet for plants?

Known as the 'fungal internet' or the 'wood wide web', this is an interlinked underground network of fungi that actually helps plants communicate and exchange not just nutrients but information as well.

For example, if a tomato plant at one end of the network is attacked by aphids or a disease, tomato plants at the other end of the mycorrhizal network learn about it and implement countermeasures making themselves less susceptible to the infestation.

How far do these networks span?

We don't know for sure but there may well be continent wide in some cases - an underground brain with potential beyond what we can currently imagine.

Indeed, the more we learn, the less we know about how to define 'LIFE' itself, let alone sentience. Think about that the next time you're enjoying cream in mushroom soup.

With respectful dedication to the Scientists, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world.

See Ya all on Facebook, prepare and register for Great Global Elections on : wssciw.blogspot.com -The World Students Society and Twitter - !E-WOW! - the Ecosystem 2011:

''' Fake Eggs '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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