Biology textbooks tell us that lichens are alliances between two organisms—a fungus and an alga. They are wrong.
Magic Mushroom Drug Lifts Depression in Human Trial - "The findings show that more research in this field is now needed. 'This is the first time that psilocybin has been investigated as a potential treatment for major depression', says lead author Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, Imperial College London."
"Our findings provide compelling evidence for the existence of fungal infection in the central nervous system from Alzheimer's disease patients, but not in control individuals." Nature magazine just published a study that claims that Alzheimer's disease is caused by fungi. If this is true, this is amazing and incredibly exciting. (By the way, I've just noticed that our very own cstross was the one who shared it on Twitter.)
How Tripping On Mushrooms Changes The Brain - "New research [pdf] suggests that psilocybin, the main psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, sprouts new links across previously disconnected brain regions, temporarily altering the brain's entire organizational framework." [more inside]
What lives in the rainforest, under a tree? Spongiforma squarepantsii! Who resembles a sponge but is really a fungee*? Spongiforma squarepantsii! First discovered in a tropical forest in Borneo in 2010, S. squarepantsii resembles a sea sponge not only in outward appearance, but "[w]hen it's wet and moist and fresh, you can wring water out of it and it will spring back to its original size. Most mushrooms don't do that," as told by Dennis Desjardin, a mycology professor involved with the discovery. * I claim artistic license. [more inside]
Fungus of the month, since 1997. Discover the bright aqua green stain fungus, which turns wood green, and was used by woodworkers in the Renaissance to add natural greens to inlaid wood work. Stinky and obscene dog stinkhorn fungus (maybe NSFW), like pink wieners growing out of your mulch. And many more, poisonous, infectious (warning: gross), hallucinogenic, with interesting photos and stories, for what he calls "the myco-curious". Bonus: I survived the destroying angel, an account of what happens if you eat a poisonous Amanita mushroom and are really, really lucky. [more inside]
Industrial Strength Fungus. At an organic farm just outside Monterey, Calif., a super-eco building material is growing in dozens of darkened shipping containers. The farm is named Far West Fungi, and its rusting containers are full of all sorts of mushrooms--shiitake, reishi and pom-pom, to name a few. This new application of mushrooms is sometimes referred to as "mycotecture", but the idea of mycorestoration [TED talk: "6 ways mushrooms can save the world"] is not new. [more inside]
Mushrooms Save the World (long form) -- Paul Stamets on mycelia. Previously: 1 2 3 [bonus: slime molds]
Silent spring : Deep in the radioactive bowels of the smashed Chernobyl reactor, a strange new lifeform is blooming.
DIY activists have been using human hair mats to soak up the carcinogenic bunker oil that's been washing onto Bay Area beaches since the spill. Now they're inoculating the oil-soaked mats with mushrooms that will break down the oil into harmless compost. See also: fungi breaking down plastics, synthetic dyes and organopollutants generally. A bit more from mushroom guru Paul Stamets. (If you're so inclined, here's a link to donate to the non-profit that coordinated the hair mats.) [more inside]
Think you have a fungal infection? Think you've got fungus growing in your building, or home? Want to see macroscopic images of people, animals, and plants that have fungal infections? Who you gonna call? Doctor Fungus. 'Dedicated to timely dissemination of information about fungal infections via the world-wide web.'
Morel Sightings 2002 There's a fungus among us. Morels are one of the most highly sought-after, delectable wild mushrooms. Each spring, morel hunting goes into high gear in many parts of the country. This site has state-by-state reports. (mine is in MA) You can learn more about these spongy fungi here and here. If you do go out foraging for them, just remember...if you don't know it, throw it!