Monday, June 8, 2015

Strange Encounters of the Spore Germination Kind ?

Image: Mycologist Paul Stamets

Folks - In the 1970's, when studying Psilocybes under the Scanning Electron Microscope, I encountered something that still mystifies me and other experts today. This SEM photo is of Psilocybe cubensis spores, which are normally smooth. These nerve-like growths were on all the spores I looked at from only one sample. I reach out for wild speculation, and perhaps a fellow scientist can help. What are these ? A wrinkling of the outer spore coat ? A new life form ?  Has anyone seen anything like this before ? Love to hear your ideas ! 
Thanks, Paul Stamets (Source: Fungi.Net)

Image: Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956
An American Mycologist Paul Stamets posted these questions on his website and Facebook page as to what these curious little wrinkles were on these tiny fungal spores. Of course the description by Paul and comments by readers lean towards humor of some type of alien organism. Sure enough it could look that way, but then many people should realize that most  Sci-Fi flick writers and film producers get their imaginative ideas about aliens from most things they do not understand here on Earth. Considering the mismanagement of Earth in our times, this should be any surprise. Spores are very much like regular seeds, but of course they are very microscopic. But to understand things we don't see, we need to illustrate them by what we do see. Many readers asserted and assumed that the wrinkled patterns were some sort of mycelial strands of other fungi invading the spores, but that doesn't make sense given that spores are tough enough with their protective coating. For me this was a no brainer. In so many ways they are very much like and are seeds like those of organisms we do see above ground. Take the common beans seeds below.


Ever soak beans prior to cooking them ? Of course, this is necessary in order for the processes of cooking them to work properly. I often soak all my larger vegetable seeds prior to planting to give them a head start. Beans, Corn, etc all have a characteristic wrinkling of their out seed coating prior to swelling of the germ inside which thereafter allows for the actual germination of the first root to emerge from the seed. The seed or bean is hydrated through the Hilum or scar from where it was originally connected within the pod when which facilitated it's development. The hilum is a scar that is produced from the separation of the seed from the ovary wall of the bean pod. It's at this Hilum point where water enters the seed or spore and expands the outer seed coat which itself also creates more room for the expanding plant embryo inside just prior to root emergence. Below is an example of the seed or bean parts and then I'll re-post the Paul Stamets picture below that for comparison.

image: Penn State University

Clearly you can see where the bean was connected to within the womb of the pod and it is this region where water can penetrate. There is a striking similarity with spores of fungi which are also at one time connected within the enclosure of the fungi fruiting body we call a truffle or perhaps mushroom. Water must somehow penetrate and expand the living tissue within the spore before germination. In the case of mycorrhizal fungi which are often host specific, this is furthered along by chemicals produced by the root cap tip which must come into contact with the spore, releasing the chemical signature which triggers a germination response from the spore. The fungal spore in Paul Stamets example is Psilocybe cubensis. Like many Psilocybe, they break down forest mulch and wood chips and spread very well by landscapers. Many of the tweekers out there will know them by the common name, "Magic Mushrooms" for those psychedelic qualities or properties. Where's a Tower Records store when you need one ? 

image: Paul Stamets
Many other spores wrinkle as well, but can quickly and easily rehydrate when conditions are favourable. Bacteria can form spores when their environment dries out and then rehydrate when humid conditions reappear.

credit: Xi Chen/Columbia University

"As Bacilli bacteria dry out and form spores (shown here), they wrinkle, and as they rehydrate, they swell. A team lead by former Wyss Institute resident scholar Ozgur Sahin harnessed these humidity-driven changes to power an actuator and generate electricity."
Ultimately, who knows ? I an aware however that assumptions and assertions are not explanations. Still, I stick with the wrinkles being  the result of hydration and rehydration. 
Further Interesting Reading References on Fungal Spore Germination (Magic Mushrooms)
Why Biotechnology should be about Mycorrhizal Fungi and not GMOs

A few more important research studies of GMO Bt toxin effects on Mycorrhizal Fungi germination and colonization & lingering effects in soils and aquatic environments

American Journal of Botany: "Evidence of reduced arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal colonization in multiple lines of Bt maize"

"In a 2011 study “Evidence of reduced arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal colonization in multiple lines of Bt maize”, researchers at Portland State University Tanya E. Cheeke, PhD, Todd N. Rosenstiel, PhD, and Mitchell B. Cruzan, PhD found that the cultivation of GE corn, which expresses the insecticidal soil bacterium Bt, has negative impacts on beneficial soil life. Their findings show a decreased presence of the beneficial fungi in the roots of Bt corn when compared to non-Bt corn. These findings were the first demonstration of a reduction in Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) colonization in multipleBtmaize lines grown under the same experimental conditions and contribute to the growing body of knowledge examining the unanticipated effects ofBtcrop cultivation on nontarget soil organisms."

Experimental systems to monitor the impact of transgenic corn on keystone soil microorganisms

(2008) "Our experimental systems allowed us to monitor the impact of two Bt  corn plants and their residues on AM fungi. Both transgenic plants decreased mycorrhizal colonization by G. mosseae and Bt  11 plant residues negatively affected mycorrhizal establishment by indigenous endophytes after their incorporation into soil. Mycelial growth in the presence of transgenic residues was not affected. Transgenic root exudates and residues incorporated into soil may produce long term effects on soil microbes(Castaldini et al., 2005). Studies on Bt  toxin persistence have shown that this protein maintains its activity after absorption to clays or binding to humic acids (Saxena andStotzky 2001) and retains its activity for 234 days (Saxena et al. 1999; Stotzky 2004).Other authors have demonstrated slower litter decomposition for  Bt  compared with non Bt  lines (Flores et al. 2005). It remains to be established whether mycorrhizal colonization is reduced directly by the Bt  toxin present in corn litter or indirectly by soil microbial population alterations or by other factors. Moreover, it is possible that prolonged permanence of litter in the soil could significantly affect inoculum potential of mycorrhizal fungi."

Occurrence of maize detritus and a transgenic insecticidal protein (Cry1Ab) within the stream network of an agricultural landscape

"A 2010 study, by University of Notre Dame ecologist Jennifer Tank, PhD and colleagues reveals that streams throughout the Midwest are contaminated with transgenic materials from corn crop byproducts. “We found that corn crop byproducts were common in agricultural streams and that 86 percent of sites contained corn leaves, cobs, husks and/or stalks in the active stream channel,” Dr. Tank said. She continued, “In addition, using a sensitive laboratory test that specifically measures the amount of Cry1Ab protein from Bt corn, we detected Cry1Ab in corn collected from 13 percent of the stream sites. We also detected Cry1Ab dissolved in stream water samples at 23 percent of the sites, even six month after crop harvest."

Take special note in the last two links that the long term presence of Bt Cry1 toxins were so persistent in soils which effected mycorrhizal colonization effects that lasted for as long as 234 days and the second study showing the persistence of GMO crop residues lasting for up to six months in streams and other aquatic habitats throughout the Midwest monocrops growing States. As recommended by these studies, further long term effects should be undertaken, but realistically how likely is that ? This isn't about superior science overcoming the gross imperfections and perceived flaws Nature influenced by some debased philosophical human constructed ideology. This is about an industrial corporate business model monopolizing the global food capabilities and fighting to keep it there.


  1. I can't tell if my last comment published or not, so I'll try again. Delete this one if needed.

    See also the open access paper: "Mycorrhizal Fungi In Ecotoxicological Studies: Soil Impact Of Fungicides, Insecticides And Herbicides"

    >>>Due to their key role in preserving soil fertility, arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi can be considered as the main non-target microorganisms to be monitored in environmental impact assessments of pesticides used in agriculture. Experimentation was chiefly aimed at validating a model system that provides for the use of the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus Glomus mosseae as a biological indicator of chemical substances applied to the soil, and consequently, of the toxicological risk associated with the man-made pollution of soil ecosystems.

    The experimental tests demonstrated that spore germination and/or mycelial growth of G. mosseae are adversely affected by most of the substances tested and, in some cases, at much lower concentrations than those indicated for use (hormesis). The results of the research suggest that G. mosseae can be a valuable indicator both for assessing the environmental impact of pesticides and other pollutants and for providing useful indications for the development of new active principles with a low environmental impact.<<<

    We know there are non-target effects of both soil microbes and arthropods from conventional insecticides. In that the Bt trait chiefly affects corn rootworm and other pests that directly attack crop plants, the non-target effects on beneficial insects from Bt is reduced. In this it would seem to have an advantage over the chemicals it replaced.

    1. Mike Lweinski: "I can't tell if my last comment published or not, so I'll try again. Delete this one if needed."

      Actually Mike, I have things set at moderation because of the junk hidden spam comments from people who are from India or China. They are deliberately spamming to pimp their wares under the guise of being interested, so comments do not appear here straight away until I read and allow them.
      Mike Lewinski: "We know there are non-target effects of both soil microbes and arthropods from conventional insecticides. In that the Bt trait chiefly affects corn rootworm and other pests that directly attack crop plants, the non-target effects on beneficial insects from Bt is reduced. In this it would seem to have an advantage over the chemicals it replaced."

      Actually my experience with both forestry and urban landscaping eventually came to be zero chemicals used in maintaining the balance. Under a mycorrhizal system, weeds which are mostly ruderals and annuals become out competed and the use of herbicides becomes unnecessary. Mike Amaranthus clientele who farm organic grains noticed this first thing when they converted over to an organic approach. The side effects was no or relatively few weeds and weeds that were present were stunted. This is because mycorrhizae outcompete weeds for phosphorus. Mycorrhizal crops ONLY need about 20% of the phosphorus applications that of conventional industrial farming. The pluses here outweigh the imaginary needs industrial agriculture force feeds people what they need for success.

      Oh and thanks for the link


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