Category: science

Regular

Whenever I speak affectionately on why I love and am so enchanted by lichen, I mention how fascinating it is that it’s a composite organism, something you hesitate to call a single species because it is actually made up of several species from different kingdoms.

Today in one of the Facebook groups I’m a part of, someone shared the work of a biologist, Dr. Scott Gilbert, who has written about how the idea of the “biological individual” is a myth which overly simplifies research on not only evolutionary biology but also immunology, anatomy, physiology, etc. In his 2012 paper “The Symbiotic View of Life: We Have Never Been Individuals,” he aims to show that “animals cannot be considered individuals by anatomical, or physiological criteria, because a diversity of symbionts are both present and functional in completing metabolic pathways and serving other physiological functions. Similarly, these new studies have shown that animal development is incomplete without symbionts.”

Maybe this isn’t as mind-blowing to people who are more involved with animal-focused research, but as someone with a botanical/mycological background I am very much enjoying thinking about this and its implications. I, like lichen, am not a single species but a collection of organisms symbiotically existing as part of the same whole. I am not an individual but rather an ecosystem.

microcosmicobservations:

microcosmicobservations:

Convergent evolution is one of my favorite topics to think about. In this video, I give you a brief introduction to the evolution of similar traits in species that aren’t closely related. You can see this throughout the natural world, and it’s amazing to think about how some really specialized traits – like carnivorous plants! – could have evolved multiple times.

Hi, I hope your snow-day is going well! I have…

Hi, I hope your snow-day is going well! I have two questions. Is there a specific mushroom you feel a very strong connection to? And, do you have some general information about mushrooms or lichen that frequent frigid/frozen environments? Cheers!

Okay, after an unexpected 3 hour nap (D:) I’m back to answer more questions! I have two fungi that I really love a lot, for similar reasons. First is Calostoma cinnabarinum, which I made a whole video on.

Second is Pseudohydnum gelatinosum:

I like both of them because they are squishy, and well, squishy things are great.  (Is that scientific enough?)

As far as lichens that frequent frigid temps: the two most important factors controlling their ranges are light and moisture. Lichens are very good at going dormant, and many species are able to withstand frigid temperatures. Here’s a cool article detailing the lichens growing in Antarctica.

Mushrooms, on the other hand, have different physiologies than lichen. I am planning on making a video soon on what species to look out for in northeastern United States during the winter, and your question reminded me to get off my butt and work on that.

Thank you for the questions!

Regular

blacknproud19

Is it true that scientists have never been able to cultivate Lichen in a lab? And that it essentially remains a mystery in terms of its component biology? I read it somewhere but never took the time to confirm that.

Scientists have been unable to successfully synthesize lichens in the lab using the algae and fungi that typically form those species. There are still some mysteries about the components – it’s definitely not as simple as the duality previously considered. Recent research has revealed that yeasts could be a big part of it, even bacteria. Actually, while making sure that I wasn’t just feeding you a bunch of lies I found this cool paper that looks into lichen’s bacterial association.

Bird’s nest fungi. When water drops land insid…

Bird’s nest fungi. When water drops land inside the “nest,” the spore “eggs” fly out. 8/17 at Hemlock Bluffs, North Carolina

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Convergent evolution is one of my favorite top…

Convergent evolution is one of my favorite topics to think about. In this video, I give you a brief introduction to the evolution of similar traits in species that aren’t closely related. You can see this throughout the natural world, and it’s amazing to think about how some really specialized traits – like carnivorous plants! – could have evolved multiple times.

Hi! I love your photography! what inspired you…

Hi! I love your photography! what inspired you to start a youtube channel as well?

Thank you! It bothers me that there is so little educational material out there on mushrooms/lichens/slime molds that is both accessible and easily digestible by non-scientists. I started my Youtube channel because I wanted others to be able to experience the same joy I do when I’m out hunting for small organisms. So much bliss can be found in discovering, understanding, and appreciating the little things.

microcosmicobservations: Please enjoy this vid…

microcosmicobservations:

Please enjoy this video that captures me acting like a kid in a candy store while exploring some rocks! In the video I give suggestions on how to make your winter hikes more enjoyable as you hunt for organisms to investigate.

Summary:

  • Take your time and hike mindfully to notice the small details

  • Note assemblages of communities and how they might fit into the ecosystem as a whole

  • Look for nooks and crannies – these can create microclimates ideal for protecting organisms from cold winter wind, as well as accumulating moisture

Please enjoy this video that captures me actin…

Please enjoy this video that captures me acting like a kid in a candy store while exploring some rocks! In the video I give suggestions on how to make your winter hikes more enjoyable as you hunt for organisms to investigate.

Summary:

  • Take your time and hike mindfully to notice the small details

  • Note assemblages of communities and how they might fit into the ecosystem as a whole

  • Look for nooks and crannies – these can create microclimates ideal for protecting organisms from cold winter wind, as well as accumulating moisture

Pulveroboletus ravenelii – note the remnants o…

Pulveroboletus ravenelii – note the remnants of the partial veil. 7/17 at Historic Yates Mill.

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