Aphrodite by Claude Verlinde
Orange pore fungus: an invasive species
When speaking of invasive organisms is common to think of plants and animals, but not in fungus, perhaps because there are few studies that address the issue of geographic dispersal in this group of organisms.
The fact is that fungi can also be dispersed, as they have a medium, their spores, through which the genetic material of the fungus can be taken to new places and successfully establish, whether be it transported by natural elements (water, wind, birds) or accidentally by man.
The beautiful Orange pore fungus, Favolaschia calocera (Mycenaceae), is one of those fungi that has spread beyond its native range distribution. This saprotrophic fungus occurs naturally in Madagascar and parts of southern Asia. It was first reported as an exotic New Zealand in the 1950s, and is now common throughout the North Island and the north western regions of the South Island.
Genetic studies also revealed that it may have also been introduced to Kenya, Norfolk Island and Réunion Island. In 2002 it was also reported from Italy. In 2005 it was recorded for the first time in south eastern Australia, and currently it has been reported also in North America (Brazil) and the Hawaiian islands.
Because it is spreading, it needs to be monitored due to the potential ecological impacts of its introduction, since it is a saprotrophic fungi. Whether it may displace native fungi is still uncertain, as in both New Zealand and Italy it appears to be more abundant in remnant or disturbed habitats.
Asked by Anonymous
I use wax. :-)
At the Zombie Cockroach Buffet, Bring Your Own Antibiotics
Meet the jewel wasp. This gorgeous, iridescent creature belies its gem-like appearance with a habit that, on the surface, is downright revolting: It turns cockroaches into mind-controlled zombies, chemically hypnotizing them in order to provide a helpless, living food source for the wasp’s young.
In short, it injects the cockroach brain with a neurochemical cocktail that, instead of killing it, forces the roach to surrender itself to the wasp’s will. It steals the zombie roach away to its burrow, where it lays its egg. That egg grows into a larvae that feeds inside the still-living roach, its prey trapped in a chemical noose that prevents it from escaping even as it is eaten from within.
Well, new research paints the picture a bit cooler. Cockroaches are filthy places, unsurprisingly. They harbor bacteria within them that could kill the young larvae, zombie host or not. It turns out that the young wasps secrete intense antimicrobial chemicals to keep their zombie roach buffet clean and disinfected.
The research involved one of the coolest tools I’ve ever heard of: Tiny windows were inserted in the roaches so the larvae could be observed!!