A Request for Help

Lewis Melville lmelvill at uoguelph.ca
Thu Nov 21 10:00:06 EST 1996

Kevin McFarlane (nstn2762 at fox.nstn.ca) wrote:
: Hi,
: 	I'm currently working on the second draft of a fiction novel 
: based on a tree-eating fungus.
	What does the fruit-body look like? ie Polyporus (bracket fungus), 
Pleurotis-like (oyster mushroom-edible for humans), is it like Armillaria 
mellea? Or is this something like Dutch elm disease, where the fungus 
gets into the vascular system of the tree and blocks the xylem and phloem?
Or is it an epiphytic fungus living in the leaves and bark?

: thought I'd tell you)Okay, so this new strand
 - strain  or species(?)

 of fungus is 
found in 
: European forests. It's very resilient and none of the known fungicides 
: (what would you use? I've got a couple already but would like some more 
: suggestions) can kill it off.
	As you probably know, the biggest problem with this hypothetical 
type of fungus would be the speed with which it produces spores, and how 
those spores are disseminated. What is the vector for spore dispersal? 
For example: do humans eat the fruit bodies, then pass the spores 
through their digestive tract into the sewerage system, and from 
there into the waterways...
What is the vegetative growth pattern?

 My mycologists are working to break down 
: the structure of the cell. What I need to know is what you'd look for 
: that'd differentiate the types of fungi.
	There are plenty of ultrastructural features that are unique to 
different families of fungi. For example, Ascomycetes have Woronin bodies 
adjacent to their septal pores...Basidiomycetes have clamp connections 
and dolipore septa. Some of these features are only visible using a 
transmission electron microscope to look at specially prepared sections 
of fungal tissue. 
You could invent a fictitious ultrastuctural feature, named after me of 
course :-) for discovering it.

 Or something not a lot of other 
: strands have and would be hard to locate.
	Given that electron microscopy is somewhat complex, and 
interpretation of images requires a bit of skill, and given that the 
thing you are looking for is fictitious, you can make it as hard to 
locate as your imagination will allow. It could be a subtle variation on 
a coated vesicle, for example, with some unique structural modification.
I vote for an ultrastructural feature (my bias is showing), but you could 
always resort to some cliche genetic marker that shows up using PCR, or 
a unique protein found in the enzyme which is digesting the wood, which 
can be detected using a western blot, or chromatography.

Good luck. Give me a shout if you like. lewis melville

: Sincerely,
: Kevin McFarlane

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