20,000,000-year-old fungus possibly resurrected from spore
August 6, 2017 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) believe that they have succesfully cultured a 20-million-year-old fungal spore sampled from a geological formation 2,500 meters beneath the ocean floor in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. The spore has produced hyphae and a mushroom approximately 1 centimeter long. If confirmed, it may shed light on the evolution of fungi and the genetic and physiological differences between ancient and modern organisms.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The (27 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Science fiction B-movies have conditioned me to think that this will not end well.

If you are a mushroom lover this might be eponsterical?
posted by otherchaz at 4:57 PM on August 6 [34 favorites]


You want fungi from Yuggoth? Because this is how you get fungi from Yuggoth.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 5:00 PM on August 6 [55 favorites]


20 million years old and the temperatures were 50-60° (120-140° F)? That is an awfully tough spore. It's easier to believe the sample got contaminated. Cool looking mushroom, though.
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:12 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


Yeah… to be honest I'm feeling like there's a 70% chance this was contamination, 20% chance it's an actual ancient fungus, 10% chance it's something nobody's thought of yet. But the scientists sound appropriately cautious and in the meantime it's cool to think about!
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:17 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


For you delectation, this spore focused posting. I know the author of this best of Craigslist post:
2002-10-06 9:53pm
Fungus Collection Seeks Home
I am a molecular biologist at UCSF. Over the years, I have accumulated a collection of strange and beautiful fungal contaminants (mostly filamentous and slime molds) that have grown up on my Petri dishes. I have lovingly nursed and organized this group of stray microbes, and consider them like my children. Unfortunately, I'm moving to a distant land for a spell and my fungus collection is in danger of being dumped by my uncaring colleagues. To prevent this tragedy, I am looking for a fellow mycophile to take over the care of my little pets. They're very low maintenance... they must simply be kept in a dark drawer or closet and occasionally checked to prevent leakage or desiccation. Please, be a kind soul and take in my molds!
posted by jadepearl at 5:32 PM on August 6 [9 favorites]






Paging Dr. Malcolm, paging Dr. Ian Malcolm...

For the love of all mercy, people, I can barely breathe with the currently viable allergen load. WHAT are you thinking?

On the other hand, perhaps this one is the one that can become sentient and overcome computational analytics, so I'm trying to keep an open mind.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 5:58 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Do you want Reptilicus because this is how you get Reptilicus.
posted by Fizz at 6:44 PM on August 6 [6 favorites]


You want fungi from Yuggoth? Because this is how you get fungi from Yuggoth

Precisely - I imagined it growing a big more, and then a dozen cold, hateful eyes suddenly snapping open.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:54 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


sadly, the youth of amerika can't even recognize a relative of the schizophyllum fungus.
posted by horsewithnoname at 6:55 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


I thought we were all going to be killed by climate change. Turns out a mad scientist decided to resurrect an extinct fungus and THAT is how civilization ended.
posted by hippybear at 7:10 PM on August 6 [3 favorites]


A single spore lands, finds nourishment in decay and attains maturity..
In turn it exhales a cloud of life, a thousand spores land... so progresses Juffo-Wup.

Violent action ensues.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:15 PM on August 6 [5 favorites]


It's fine until it says FEED ME.
posted by Bringer Tom at 8:00 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]




I'm just imagining the shoggoths in Antarctica, noting the accelerating melt of the ice cap with a growing sense of anticipation, and then receiving news of this and going, damnit, we were this close to coming back without any competition.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:47 PM on August 6 [2 favorites]


As far as I can tell there isn't a paper? In any case, this is almost certainly wrong. It would not be hard to get the evidence you need to support this claim - sequence the fungus and show that it exists as an ancient version of its lineage. If you have a living specimen this could be done in a few days for some commonly used genes; no respectable researcher would go out making such a claim without first checking it. Furthermore, one woud also like to see that there is intact DNA in the original samples they collected. I'm not aware of any DNA sequences that are even 1 million years old, let alone 20, so this claim is highly doubtful on that basis alone. It should go without saying that if you can't recover intact DNA, the organism would not be able to survive.
posted by Buckt at 9:52 PM on August 6 [1 favorite]


Researchers at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)

JAMS TEC? Didn't Steve Jackson make some cryptic announcement the other day?
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:18 PM on August 6


It's only 20 million years old. Not 200 million years -- those are dangerous. Get a grip people.
posted by rainy at 1:41 AM on August 7




Science fiction B-movies have conditioned me to think that this will not end well.

Real-life scientists who keep mucking up the environment have conditioned me to think the same. See: Gypsy Moths, etc., etc.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:33 AM on August 7


For you delectation, this spore focused posting. I know the author of this best of Craigslist post:
2002-10-06 9:53pm
Fungus Collection Seeks Home
I am a molecular biologist at UCSF. Over the years, I have accumulated a collection of strange and beautiful fungal contaminants (mostly filamentous and slime molds) that have grown up on my Petri dishes. I have lovingly nursed and organized this group of stray microbes, and consider them like my children...


You know Egon Spengler?
posted by leotrotsky at 6:56 AM on August 7 [1 favorite]


I'm not aware of any DNA sequences that are even 1 million years old, let alone 20, so this claim is highly doubtful on that basis alone.

So the report of halophilic archaea from the Permian that Came out a few years back didn't pan out?
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 9:30 AM on August 7


20 million years seems impossibly long for DNA to survive intact in heat like that. The only thing that keeps me from instant rejection is that this isn't bacteria, where contaminants are everywhere. A terrestial fungus would be an unusual contaminant out to sea, and not that much more likely in a lab clean room.
posted by tavella at 1:39 PM on August 7


Pretty sure this is how the cordyceps infection starts.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:19 PM on August 7


I was thinking more Blood Music only not the primordial Singularity happening but more the Gaia concept made complete by a single fungus taking over all life and living only for its own needs.
posted by hippybear at 10:52 PM on August 7


To leotrotsky: Not that particular mycophile but another mycophile. Actually, we were out for drinks with another person who pointed out this posting making it to Best of Craigslist. The conversation chain was funny in of itself. My friend, was surprised and thought his very truthful, soulful and genuine posting was not meant to be intentionally funny. Alas, no one took his molds and one does wonder if people thought he was putting them on, instead of a man whose contaminants and filaments needing a home.
posted by jadepearl at 3:45 AM on August 8


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