Fun facts

Not that small after all – the biggest living organism is a fungus

By on 18. November 2016

It’s actually true! The giant fungus belonging to the species Armillaria solidipes, also known as honey mushroom, is the biggest living creature on our planet Earth.

armillaria_ostoyae_-_lindsey

Armillaria solidipes – honey mushroom. Photo by James Lindsey/Wikimedia Commons

Scientists discovered the fungus in the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon, USA, where it might have been growing for more than 2000 years to cover an area of 3.4 square miles (8.8 square km).

Other than the fruiting bodies at the surface suggest, the majority of the fungus is in fact underground – as mycelium. But then how did the scientists actually measure it?

armillaria_ostoyae_mycelia

White mycelium envelops the infected tree. Photo by Neilmaceachern/Wikimedia Commons

They had noticed that trees in the area were dying of a disease called shoestring root rot (because of the appearance of parts of its mycelium). The scientists analyzed DNA samples around the infected trees and realized that a single individual had caused the disease – on an area of 1232 socker fields. The fungus mainly infects conifers by invading their trunk and hijacking their transportation highways to divert nutrients to itself.

 

 

 

If you want to know more:

BBC

Scientific American

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microbeing
Germany

I am a passionate microbiologist driven by curiosity and fascination for the wonders of the mostly invisible world of tiny creatures. Please join me in my explorations into this world in a nutshell and discover it's amazing facettes!

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"Seit die Mathematiker über die Relativitätstheorie hergefallen sind, versteh' ich sie selbst nicht mehr."
(Since mathematicians pitched into the theory of relativity, even I don't really get it any more), Albert Einstein

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