Alliance between plants and fungi led to living on land

Plants may have colonised land because of an alliance with fungi, according to a study published in Science. Plants began life as aquatic species and started to move onto land around 450 million years ago. In the 1980s, a fossil study led to a hypothesis that they were able to adapt to the arid, above-water … Continue reading Alliance between plants and fungi led to living on land

Squeeze like a fungus

As icky as it sounds, some species of fungus can literally squeeze themselves between plant or animal cells and nestle in the space there. A team led by Norio Takeshita of the University of Tsukuba, Japan, along with collaborators at Nagoya University, Mexico, found key features of the squeeze, showing that the fungi has to … Continue reading Squeeze like a fungus

Fungi first

A US-China collaboration has uncovered the oldest terrestrial fossil ever found: that of a tiny, fungi-like organism that may have shaped the world. Earth was emerging from one of its largest-ever ice ages about 635 million years ago (mya); the global average temperature had plummeted to -50°C and the oceans were frozen to depths of … Continue reading Fungi first

A novel approach to making leather

If you love leather boots, handbags and wallets but feel iffy about their animal or synthetic sources, fungi may be the answer. They offer an alternative that is sustainable, ethical and environmentally friendly, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Sustainability. “Fungi are the ideal natural biorefinery breaking down biomass, which can be … Continue reading A novel approach to making leather

Soil pathogens rise as temperatures do

Pathogenic plant fungi are likely to multiply and spread as rising temperatures warm soils, thereby accelerating climate change-induced crop losses, according to research published in the journal Nature Climate Change. Global food security is under threat as warmer temperatures increase populations of pests such as the virulent oomycete Phytophthora infestans, which was responsible for the Irish potato famine and is still … Continue reading Soil pathogens rise as temperatures do

Fungi networks boost bushfire recovery

The unprecedented bushfires that struck the east coast of Australia this summer killed an estimated one billion animals across millions of hectares. Scorched landscapes and animal corpses brought into sharp relief what climate-driven changes to wildfire mean for Australia’s plants and animals. Yet the effects of fire go much deeper, quite literally, to a vast and complex underground world that … Continue reading Fungi networks boost bushfire recovery

Pain relief may be found in the mud

A sample of estuarine mud taken 16 years ago has yielded a potential new class of painkiller as potent as opioids, but without their disadvantages. Researchers from The University of Queensland and University of Sydney have filed a patent application for the potential drug, which is a modified version of a molecule found in a … Continue reading Pain relief may be found in the mud