|BOTANICAL ELECTRONIC NEWS|
|No. 474 December 3, email@example.com||Victoria, B.C.|
This issue of BEN is dedicated to our friend, mycologist BRYCE KENDRICK who is celebrating his 80-th birthday on December 3, 2013
I am just getting to know and enjoy Bryce. Whenever he is at any Victoria Natural History Society or South Vancouver Island Mycological Society outings, I love to hang out near him and absorb his tidbits of knowledge. I was very happy that he took on writing the fungi chapter for the Nature Guide to the Victoria Region that VNHS recently revised. That really helps a new generation of naturalists to get a modern outline on mushrooms. He introduced me to his Fifth Kingdom on-line textbook http://www.mycolog.com/fifthtoc.html and I spend much more energy studying this than I would a standard textbook on mycology. He has figured out what he has to do to get modern students involve in the subject. Anyone who spends time with his 'textbook' will continue to come back again and again to try to learn more. He makes it easy, or perhaps I should say easier as it is a heavy subject to learn well. In addition, he keeps updating it as he gets new information or ideas! Bryce, Sharon Godkin and I have a great time together. We move at a snail's pace because we find so many tiny organisms to examine. Even when we are out without him, we will find things that we know Bryce would enjoy seeing and sometimes drag them along to show him.
He is interested in everything in nature, not just mycology, and I enjoy any time that I am privileged to spend with him. He lives at the ocean's edge and apparently goes out in his rowboat. Great fitness while he checks out the birds and the sea creatures at the same time. I love being around folks like Bryce and Cam & Joy Finlay. They are as enthusiastic as a bunch of school kids to learn something new every day. Moreover, they enjoy sharing this enthusiasm with others. Not the typical 80 year olds that we imagine!
From: Claudia Copley firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to a career spent examining fungi, Bryce Kendrick has been fascinated by marine biology since he was an undergraduate student. Combining that fascination with spare time following his retirement and the appearance of grandchildren, Bryce began to photo-document everything he saw on his many oceanside walks in an effort to put together a CD-ROM entitled: Seashore Life of British Columbia: http://www.mycolog.com/seashore.htm
A story Bryce likes to tell relates to a time when he was helping lead a group of children on a seashore exploration on one of the Victoria Natural History Society's free Connecting Children With Nature field trips. One of the participants was thrilled because they had never done such a thing before. Bryce could not believe any child in Victoria could have missed going to the beach and the child said: "But I don't live anywhere near the ocean". What!!! A quick look at a map of our region and anyone can see you are never very far from that treasure trove of discovery.
Every mycologist has at least one short published paper that they are very fond of for reasons that might not be obvious to the casual reader. One of Bryce's favorites is his description of the hyphomycete Helicoma monospora W.B. Kendr., which he discovered growing on Pinus sylvestris needles in the Delamere Forest near the University of Liverpool, when he was just beginning his PhD. Everyone is thrilled the first time they see the coiled spores of the so-called helicosporous hyphomycetes through the microscope. For a beginner, the drawings and photographs in the books seem so exotic, that it is hard to believe that these fungi are common just about everywhere. Cf.: http://vedajekrasna.cz/archiv/2011-vedecka-mikrofotografie?action%5Bsoutez%5 D=detail&id=265 & http://www.mycolog.com/chapter11c.htm
Bryce mentioned this fungus to Keith several time through the years, and when it became possible to have colour photographs enlarged onto canvas, he had a photo of this fungus mounted on a frame that now hangs near the microscope in his home lab. Part of his fixation was that he knew when he described the species that he was classifying it in the wrong genus, because the spores remained firmly attached to the producing cells, whereas in other species of Helicoma they fall off easily. Almost thirty years later, David Minter used this difference to justify creating a new genus, Slimacomyces, the name reflecting the similarity of these spores to a snail shell.
Keith visited Bryce in Sydney-by-the-Sea in late November 2012 to belatedly celebrate the publication of The Genera of Hyphomycetes, and was attracted by the huge Coulter pine right outside the entrance to the house. He picked up some of the long, stiff needles and brought them home in a zip lock back.
In the lab, Joey put them in a closed container and kept them damp for a while to see what might grow out. After a few days, Bryce's best friend Slimacomyces monosporus (W.B. Kendr.) Minter popped out, putting on a fine display for everyone who looked through the microscope in the lab that day. The spore attached to the producing cell looks like a shepherd's hook. It's as if this fungus attached itself to Bryce when he was a student, and then followed him around for his whole career, and like its shepherd, found an ideal home on the cliffs above the sea.
Happy 80th birthday to you, Bryce, from the two of us, and from all your friends and former colleagues in Ottawa.
Once a mushroom is cut or picked, it's dead right? Wrong! A number of things tell you that the cells making up the picked mushrooms in your basket or refrigerator are still very much alive. They may continue to "drop" spores for a few days after being picked. (Spore release is actually a very active process-as the name for it, ballistospory, implies-requiring living cells.) Some mushrooms, for example Amanitas, may continue to elongate and bend upwards, away from the surface upon which they are placed. This, of course, ensures the cap is up in the air column so that discharged spores may be carried away on the air currents. Furthermore, the gills (or tubes in boletes and polypores) must be exactly vertical or spores will not drop free of the cap.
A growth response to gravity is called gravitropism (sometimes, geotropism). I recall first noting this as an undergrad studying under the mycologist Sam Mazzer at Kent State University. (Ironically, it was at the same time that I was taking a plant physiology course with Professor Rollo dela Fuente, one of the co-discoverers of phototropism in plants. Phototropism is the process that causes plants to bend toward sunlight, thus more efficiently collecting the sun's energy on the surfaces of leaves.) I had made a nice collection of Amanita muscaria and brought the specimens into the lab for all to enjoy. The following day I returned to the table where I had left my mushrooms and was surprised to find them-no longer pencil-straight. During the night they had continued to "grow." Or so I thought. The stems had become curved with the mushroom caps no longer resting on the table, instead resuming a position above and horizontal to the surface.
The phenomenon of negative gravitropism, wherein the mushroom stem is moving away from the source of gravity, so to say, is to ensure the mushroom cap will be in the air column so that the spores may be carried away. The mushroom's hymenophore (be they gills of agarics, tubes of boletes and polypores, or teeth in hydnoid forms) hang down from the cap, indeed they grow perpendicular to the cap, exhibiting positive gravitropism. The cap itself is an ingenious structure, for it protects the hymenium of Basidiomycetes from rainfall; any moisture would disable the spore discharge mechanism of Basidiomycetes. If the cap is repositioned to anything but perfectly horizontal, the hymenophore will continue to elongate and bend so that they will again be vertical.
Bracket fungi probably are more correctly termed gravimorphogenic, rather than gravitropic, as the entire bracket does not bend or reshape. If repositioned other than perfectly horizontal (as when a standing tree with brackets falls down) a new bracket is formed horizontal to the surface.
In the case of gilled mushrooms, both the positive and negative geotropism exhibited by the gills and stem, respectively, ensures that the spores will be ejected from the hymenium (the surface of the gills), then fall straight down without landing on an adjacent. Probably all mushrooms demonstrate this while intact. Amanitas demonstrate this beautifully even after being picked or cut (most other mushrooms will wither or dry soon after cutting and don't show this as dramatically). The Mushroom Handbook by Louis Krieger (1936) is the only book I know of that points out this habit of Amanitas. If you are involved with setting up wild mushroom displays, you would be wise to store all Amanita specimens fully upright, lest they become bent and distorted from their natural shape found in the wild.
How do mushrooms grow "up?" As mentioned earlier, plants bend towards a light source by a process called phototropism. In a sense, fungal gravitropism is by a somewhat similar process. In plants, the side of the plant stem receiving the strongest light sends a plant hormone signal (auxin) to the "darker" side of the stem, and this induces a physiological change in the cell walls there. Cells on the dark side of the stem release enzymes called expansins that partially break down the cell walls of dark side cells, allowing those cells to be less rigid and to expand. Cells furthest away from the light source receive the strongest auxin signal and expand the most, thus impart a disproportionate elongation force, causing the plant to bend in the opposite direction. Bending towards the light, which is more efficiently captured by the upper leaf surfaces.
Fungal gravitropism was poorly known until recently (Moore, 1991). A number of experiments, some producing inconclusive results, have been published over the past 100 years using gravistat devices and centrifuges to negate gravity's effects on mushroom formation, and to see the results. Mushroom cultures have even been taken into Earth's orbit! In the 1970s, the Soviet Union's unmanned Cosmos 690 was the first; Salyut-5 and Salyut-6 soon followed. Among the experiments aboard were those to test the effects of space, primarily zero gravity, on mushroom fruitbody formation (for a review see Moore, 1991). A decade ago Gruen (1991) performed careful grafting experiments on developing Flammulina basidiocarps to test the effects on gravitropism. In fruitbodies of Flammulina velutipes growing on sawdust the mushroom caps were removed and replaced with either caps, or caps with stem apices (and sometimes inverted stems) and it was found that the part of the mushroom most sensitive to gravity's effects is the apex of the stem. Furthermore, the effects of the various grafts demonstrated "acropetal transport" of mycelial metabolites through living hyphae of the stem which induced the bending of the mushroom stems in response to gravity. Those metabolites-a signal of gravitational forces-have yet to be elucidated.
Monzer (1996, 1995) more recently proposed a more simple explanation for how gravitational sensing is accomplished in fungi. And that it's very similar to the system of otolith organs (technically the utricle and saccule) of humans. Within all of us, deep inside our inner ear, there are organs that contain a liquid filled with tiny stone-like particles called otoliths or otoconia (they really are stony, essentially made of limestone and a protein) that rub against tiny hairs that line the inside of the otolith organ. Most of the time, the particles are uniformly settled telling us which way is down. If you are spun around or shaken like a snow globe, the particles move all about giving you a feeling of disorientation, even dizziness. And this, Monzer has concluded, is similar to how fungal cells sense gravity. Within hyphal cells, nuclei act as fungal otoliths; their sedimentation within the cells in response to the direction of the gravitational forces tells the fungal cells which way is up. The nuclei are enmeshed in proteinaceous actin filaments that make up the cell's internal "skeleton" (the cytoskeleton). As these nuclei settle, they tug on actin filaments, which in turn tug on the cell walls at their points of attachment. This tension triggers cellular changes in response to gravity, and on the side of the cell feeling gravity's force, microvesicles begin to fill and expand, vacuoles expand, and the entire process causes the expansion of hyphal cells. The net result is that the mushroom stem bends away from the gravitational sensation.
And finally, one more note. While it seems to be common knowledge that fungi have no need whatsoever for light, there are in fact many fungi that show a phototropic response. The zygomycete Pilobolus is well-known for "throwing" its "hats" in the direction of light and away from the dung upon which it grows. The common stalked polypore Polyporus brumalis will grow towards light. And shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes) growers know that this species will not form mushrooms at all in the absence of light. Furthermore, many other mushrooms will fail to form caps or produce malformed fruitbodies in the absence of light.
In the 1990s, Bryce Kendrick was the inspiration for the non-profit multiple access computerized key, MatchMaker - Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest. He was pleased with the effort to build on his earlier computerized keys and encouraged its development in practical ways. The present program is produced by a team of six people in association with the Pacific Northwest Key Council, which has been producing paper-based keys to macrofungi of this area since 1974.
Three essential components comprise this key to macrofungi: descriptions of 4000 species from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, 5000 photographs of about half of them, and an interactive key. The key allows the user to enter the characters of a particular collection and work with a list of possible species names that fit that collection. The descriptions and photographs are immediately available to help verify which if any of the results apply to the collection.
The program runs on a PC as an installed program. More than a thousand CDs were requested prior to 2010. Since then, MatchMaker - Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest has been downloadable free from www.matchmakermushrooms.com. It is widely used by members of mycological societies, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, who are interested in identification of macrofungi.
In the fall of 2012 the North American Mycoflora Workshop published web videos of the first North American Mycoflora Workshop (http://www.northamericanmycoflora.org/presentations.html). From the presenters at the conference we learn that almost every step of the traditional pattern of mycological research -- finding a mushroom, working through printed literature to discover its name, collecting, preserving, and banking it in a herbarium -- has been altered by tools derived from the expanding wavefront of computing and computer networking.
In October 2012, Victoria-based Ian Gibson and his Pacific Northwest team supplied more evidence of the marriage of mycology and digital culture. MatchMaker 2.1, which Dr. Gibson began working on more than a decade ago, is a major update to one of the most significant digital mycological tools of the last decade. MatchMaker 2.1 draws on the power of computing technology to fill a number of roles. It is an educational instrument, a recording/notetaking device, and a synopsis of published literature. Above all, though, it is a direct competitor to the single-access key, one of the central tools of traditional mushroom identification.
Single-access keys, also called binary keys, dichotomous keys, and sequential keys, help researchers to decide what specimens they have found (or not found). In the popular binary form of the single-access key, the investigator begins by deciding which of two descriptions most closely matches the specimen at hand. The choice of a description leads either to the name of the mushroom or to another pair of descriptions. In a key that is a perfectly balanced binary tree, X number of decisions will pick a specimen from a field of whose size is 2^X. Five choices, for example, extract a name from a field of up to 32 candidates. For practical reasons, however, the binary trees contained in single-access keys are seldom balanced. The number of choices to be made before the mushroom is found can range from 1 to, in a totally unbalanced key, X.
The possibility of having to make a large number of choices is one of the smaller problems presented by single-access keys. A worse problem is that a wrong turn at any decision step, triggered perhaps by ambiguity in the specimen or in the key, can send the investigator down a garden path that does not contain the target description. Key users often find themselves tracing two, four, or more simultaneous paths through a key. (The number of parallel paths is often constrained by the number of bookmarking fingers.) The most glaring problem with single-access keys, however, is that the author of the key is the one who decides what the key's user has to observe about the specimen being keyed. Single-access keys frequently demand that users know what they do not, or cannot, know at the time they are working through the key -- information, for example, about specimens younger or older than the one being keyed out or about inaccessible microscopic or chemical data.
A better approach to the task of identification is to adapt a key to what the researcher actually knows about the specimen. This requires a multi-access key, one that allows investigators to choose their own paths into the data set, paths that correspond to the state of their knowledge. Keys of this type are difficult to construct on paper, especially when the field of choice gets larger than 10 or 20 items. Multi-access keys are much more at home in computational environment. The key writer constructs a program that queries what the user knows. As the user provides the information about the target specimen, the program discards from the field of candidates the organisms that do not match the information provided by the user.
Despite the apparent advantage of computer-implemented, multi-access keys over paper-based single-access keys, multi-access keys have not always proved to be as useful in practice as they are in theory. Over fifty years of experience with these keys in a wide range of disciplines, from medicine to geology to biology to car repair, have made us aware that effective multi-access keys are hard to construct and sometimes hard to use.
In the case of Matchmaker 2.1, Ian Gibson and his team have had to climb a Mt. Everest of technical descriptions in order to build a full-field database of 4000+ Pacific Northwest mushrooms. Sometimes the data needed to make MatchMaker work was buried deep in the literature, sometimes it was simply not there, and sometimes it was there but was inconsistent. Think, for a moment, about what has been recorded about the smells of various mushrooms. What is the odor, for example, of a Mycena galericulata, one of temperate North America's most common large Mycenas? In the sanctioning Latin work on its basionym, Agaricus galericulata, the mushroom is said to be "inodorus." Samuel F. Gray, the assigning authority who moved the mushroom to the genus Mycena, echoes this conclusion in his 1821 Natural Arrangement of British Plants, calling the mushroom "scentless." The MatchMaker database, with a nod to the earliest sources, says that the mushroom has no odor, but it also notes that others have detected an odor, variously described as farinaceous, radishy, nauseating, or rancid. If we were writing a single-access key for Mycenas, we would no doubt ignore the issue of smell -- the odor data for Mycena galericulata is far too ambiguous to serve as a signpost to lead in one direction or another. We can leave the smell data out because we, in our role as authors, get to decide what questions can be asked in single-access keys. But in a multi-access key it is entirely plausible that the user, detecting some recognizable smell in the mushroom, might think this information important and want to supply it as part of the search. The constructor of a multi-access key that includes this mushroom will record, therefore, both the absence of odor and the various scents that have been attributed to it. Now multiply the problem with the odor of Mycena galericulata by the number of characteristics recorded and multiply that by 4000 mushrooms, and you have some inkling of the extent of the task undertaken by Ian Gibson when he set out to create a multi-access key for Pacific Northwest mushrooms.
MatchMaker 2.1, with more than a decade of iteration, evolution, and improvement, has tried to address some of the more common user interface problems. The work has yielded results: this new version, despite features that have been added over the years for more advanced users, has actually become more intuitive for the novice user. At its digital heart, however, the program is committed to its role as an exhaustive and complete reference to the mushrooms of Northwestern North America. It belongs to the same complexity category as programs such as Photoshop and Excel. To mine the full capabilities of MatchMaker means committing many hours to reading the manual and practicing the program's panoply of features.
When the record is finally found in MatchMaker, users can look at the data from a number of angles. Besides studying the full text description of the mushroom's characteristics, users can view pictures of the mushroom. There are a large number of new pictures in the current release of MatchMaker -- about half of the species now have at least one picture associated with the species name (The 5000+ pictures that come with the program have been provided by more than 150 photographers.). The characteristics of the mushroom can be compared with another mushroom. Users can also see where the mushroom resides in a taxonomic tree and look at a North American range map for the species.
Many of these features were present in earlier versions of MatchMaker. A few features, though, are new. Perhaps the most significant change in version 2.1 is the way nongilled mushrooms have been integrated into the program. Nongilled descriptions and illustrations were first added in 2006 ( version 1.2). In 2010 (version 2.0) the authors permitted users to perform searches in the various nongilled categories by invoking a separate program. With the recent version, the nongilled groups have been merged into the main program.
Other changes include an expanded help facility and three new people on the authoring team (Michael Beug, Danny Miller, and Drew Parker join the earlier core of Ian Gibson, Eli Gibson, and Bryce Kendrick). The quiz facility has been expanded. Especially welcome is the new ability to save the lists generated by program searches as text files. The technical and semi-technical terms that occur in species descriptions are now highlighted and the user can click to see pop-up definitions -- no more tracing through the added glossary.
One aspect of MatchMaker that has not changed is its price. It can be purchased in CD format for media and mailing charges ($10) or downloaded for free from http://www.matchmakermushrooms.com MatchMaker only runs on Windows computers, unfortunately -- no Apple OS or tablet OS implementation yet.
Clarke, Robert C. & Merlin, Mark D. Sep. 2013. Cannabis: Evolution and ethnobotany. University of California Press, Berkeley (http://www.ucpress.edu/) xv, [ii], 434 pp., ill. (B&W, col.), ISBN 9780520270480 HB, $95.00
From website: "A comprehensive, interdisciplinary exploration of the natural origins and early evolution of this famous plant, highlighting its historic role in the development of human societies. Cannabis has long been prized for the strong and durable fiber in its stalks, its edible and oil-rich seeds, and the psychoactive and medicinal compounds produced by its female flowers. The culturally valuable and often irreplaceable goods derived from cannabis deeply influenced the commercial, medical, ritual, and religious practices of cultures throughout the ages, and human desire for these commodities directed the evolution of the plant toward its contemporary varieties. As interest in cannabis grows and public debate over its many uses rises, this book will help us understand why humanity continues to rely on this plant and adapts it to suit our needs." A scholarly text-heavy, sparsely ill. (98 figs.) work
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