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New:  Medicinal Fungi Articles

Shennong chewing a branch (1503). The short horns on his head are a consequence of his acquiring a feature of immortal tortoises. Painting by Guo Xu (1456-1529).

Dianna Smith has written three excellent articles on medicinal fungi.  In the first, "Medicinal Fungi: Hype & Hope", Dianna explores the history of this topic, lists useful resources, and discusses the deep personal background she brings to the table. Her second article, "Scientific Research and Medicinal Fungi", dives into human uses of fungi as medicines such as antibiotics and statins, as well as the current state of clinical studies of specific fungi.  The most recent article discusses the aura and mythology of Ganoderma ling-zhi and its connection to immortality elixirs.

All three articles (with a final one coming soon) can be found in McIlvainea, NAMA's online journal. 

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Lichen Basics

Lichens are amazing organisms. They are all around us and we hardly notice them. Found on soil, tree bark, rocks and even some under water, they are actually two organisms living together (symbiosis). The major component is a fungus (mycobiont), hence they are classified as fungi — the vast majority being ascomycetes. Lichens are fungi that have taken up farming, and they are known as lichenized fungi. There are four major growth forms — crustose, foliose, fruticose and squamulose.
To see the page on Lichens written by Dorothy Smullen, follow this link...

Science Corner:
Giant Lichens Can Grow To The Size Of Dinner Plates

Umbilicaria mammulata, photo by Jason Hollinger
Umbilicaria mammulata, photo by Jason Hollinger

Linh Anh Cat has written another great science article for Forbes Magazine, this time about lichens.  Cat highlights the fact that dinner plate sized specimens of Umbilicaria mammulata have been observed growing in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. She also discusses a recent discovery in California where toxic and biologically active methylmercury carried on fog from the oceans reached lichens and was concentrated in the bodies of cougars. Click here to read the article.

Linh Anh Cat is a a scientist studying how tiny microbes make big impacts in ecosystems. Her research has brought her to scenic environments from deserts to boreal forests. She earned her Ph.D. in biological sciences studying airborne microbes, particularly those that cause disease. Now, she  bridges ecology and atmospheric chemistry at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California.