Thursday, March 17, 2016

Green fungi for a certain March-based holiday

In honour of St. Patrick's Day, here are a couple of neat green fungi. I was going to do plants, but there are just so many to choose from. Ha ha.

Russula virescens doing its thing (Source)

Russula virescens, as its name implies, has a green cap. It also has a mild taste and smell, unlike some close relatives (e.g. R. emetica and R. xerampelina). It's commonly eaten in parts of Europe and China. In other festive news, Russula species produce a rainbow of mushrooms: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Members of this genus associate with trees, the two partners exchanging nutrients beneath the ground.

Amanita phalloides being all poisonous and stuff (Source)

Amanita phalloides is known as the death cap since its mushrooms kill people (they're full of liver-destroying amatoxins) and their caps often have a sickly green tinge to them. This fungus has spread from its home in Europe to many parts of the world via the introduction of trees with which it associates.

Three species of Trichoderma duking it out with another mould (Source)

Trichoderma fungi, which take the form of moulds and produce green spores, are typically found anywhere you have soil or dead plants. They hang out near plant roots, helping the plants to fend off other fungi. Certain species like to eat button mushrooms, which is a big problem if you're a mushroom grower.

To finish up, it's worth mentioning a couple of famous blue-green fungi. You've got wood-staining Chlorociboria and penicillin- and cheese-making species of Penicillium.


References

Cao Y et al. 2013. Structure, gene flow, and recombination among geographic populations of a Russula virescens ally from Southwestern China. PLoS One 8(9):e73174. [Full text]

Santi L, Maggioli C, Mastroroberto M, Tufoni M, Napoli L, Caraceni P. 2012. Acute liver failure caused by Amanita phalloides poisoning. International Journal of Hepatology 2012:487480. [Full text]

Schuster A, Schmoll M. 2010. Biology and biotechnology of Trichoderma. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 87(3):787-799. [Full text]

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