Well that’s one quarter down and another three to go as we rush head long towards summer (or winter depending where you are). Last week we met the cryptic ball of fat known as the Oilbird not to mention the Brown Hare, the focus of our Easter special. This week we go from oily to stinky. Hope you guys enjoy.
Issue #114 – Stinky Squid
Wait a second something stinks here…yep April Fools Guys, so let’s start this again
Impurest’s Guide to
Animals Fungi #114– Stinky Squid
Kingdom – Fungi
Division – Basidomycota
Class – Agaricomycetes
Order – Phallales
Family – Phallacaeae
Genus – Pseudocolus
Species – fusiformis
Related Species – The Stinky Squid is one of the 77 species in the Family Phallaceae known colloquially as Stinkhorns. (1)
Range – The Stinky Squid can be found in gardens and woodland throughout South East Asia, as well as Australia and the Continental United States
The Stinky Squid is a medium sized fungus whose visible fruiting body grows up to 6cm in height and consists of three to four dark orange tentacle like structures. Each one of these ‘tentacles’ are four chamber, one large one on the outside of each arm, and three smaller ones running along the structures length. The underground structure of the Stinky Squid known as the hyphae often spread far, and multiple fruiting bodies can be part of the same subterranean network.
Like the rest of the stinkhorn fungi, the Stinky Squid is a detritivore and survives on rotting wood buried in the soil. As such Stinky Squid can often be found in areas that have been mulched, as well as growing in areas where there is an abundant source of deadwood. Despite the slightly alarming appearance the Stinky Squid does not attack living plants although the fruiting body, while not poisonous, is foul tasting and is not recommended for human consumption (2).
When ready to breed the Stinky Squid produces a green liquid spore mix known as gleba from the chambers inside of the fruiting bodies arms. The gleba is foul smelling, resembling the odor of rotting manure to attract flies, which act as the fungus’s spore dispersers. Once attracted the flies carry minute amounts of spores, which are about 2.5 micrometres in diameter (3), on their body until they eventually drop off onto an un-colonised section of soil where they begin to grow, producing an egg like immature fruiting body before eventually creating the tentacle fruiting body of the adult fungus.
Nature’s Most Wanted #5 – Dutch Elm Disease
Long time readers of Impurest’s Guide to Animals will be familiar with the destructive impact of fungi, be it on bats, frogs, crayfish or the many other species afflicted with deadly fungal pathogens. As such it seemed fitting to cover one of the deadliest of these pathogens Dutch Elm Disease (Ophiostoma ulmi) which effects trees from the genus Ulmus. While its native range is unknown, the fungus was first discovered and identified in the Netherlands in 1932 (4). While destructive, the fungus never spread too far in this initial outbreak, only to re-emerge as a more virulent strain in the 1960s, one that had driven its host species to the point of endangerment in Europe
Symptoms associated with Dutch Elm Disease include the premature yellowing of the tree’s leaves, as well as the excessive wilting of the foliage that make up the tree’s canopy. The disease is spread from host to host by a number of bark beetle species (Scolytussp) which drill into the tree’s bark effectively carrying the fungus past the tree’s protective bark. From there the fungus spreads by using the xylem and phloem that transport water through the tree, and has generally infected the whole plant by the time external symptoms begin to show.
While destructive, Dutch Elm Disease can be countered by tackling both the fungus and its insect vectors. High value trees can be sprayed with systematic fungicides to kill the disease when it infects trees, although insecticides should be avoided since there is a proven link between historic use of insecticides, such as DDT, to kill bark beetles and the decline in bird biodiversity and populations. Dutch Elm Disease can also be countered with the use of the fungal pathogen Verticillium albo-atrum which is a milder disease and effectively triggers an enhanced reaction from the tree’s immune response capable of identifying Dutch Elm Disease and destroying it before it infects the entire tree for a single growing season.
2 - McKnight VB, McKnight KH. (1987). A Field Guide to Mushrooms, North America. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin. p. 346
3 – Bessette A. (1995). Mushrooms of North America in Color: a Field Guide Companion to Seldom-illustrated Fungi. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. pp. 140–1.
4 – http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=130&fr=1&sts=&lang=EN
1 - https://i.ytimg.com/vi/-uXbPRVVuNc/maxresdefault.jpg
2 - https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/98/a2/2f/98a22ff87ccf2bac9b46d1692bfb9172.jpg
3 - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2420/5720216323_9a99a7d12f.jpg
4 - http://www.cornwallhistoricalsociety.org/images/forestexhibit/spore.jpg
5 - http://organically.server276.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/3.png
Well talk about a ‘fungus among us’! Thankfully we return to a somewhat normal schedule next week as we look at a ghoulish request from @cbishop. But until then make sure to critic, comment and suggest future issues as well as making sure you check past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary.