Natures wonders: Fungus lifecycle with blueberries (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Friday, April 03, 2015, 20:26 (1390 days ago) @ David Turell

It involves several amazing steps and processes and mimics blueberries to fool pollinating insects. An amazing inventive story:

"There is a fungus on our planet which is capable of not one, but two audacious and duplicitous acts: it pretends, on separate occasions, to be both to be a flower and a pollen grain, and its acts are so successful that it manages to fool both the bumblebee and the blueberry bush.

"That fungus goes by the tongue-twisting name Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi, but the common name for the disease it causes is mummy berry (which sounds like it should have its own breakfast cereal). That's because it has a third act too: turning blueberries into time bombs.


"Once it reaches that goal, the flower's egg or embryo, it goes wild. The infected ovary — which was probably also fertilized by a pollen grain — matures into a blueberry, but the blueberry is blighted. It shrivels, mummifies and falls to the ground. Inside, as the chill of winter comes, the fungus forms its sclerotium. And there these fungal time bombs tick until next spring, whence they will launch their next blueberry-bound volley.

"Both of these acts of mimicry are extraordinary. It is rare for fungi to infect plants through what amounts to their reproductive tract — only the aforementioned smut fungi and another group called ergot fungi also infect their hosts through the flower's lady bits. At the time the studies on the leaf-based fake flowers were done in 1985, no other example of leaf-based floral mimicry was known. Finding both behaviors in *one* fungus is nothing short of spectacular."

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