In article <8qpidi$30l$1 at zipperii.zip.com.au>,
korman at zipworld.com.au (Kate Orman) wrote:
> I hope you'll forgive this intrusion - I'm a science fiction writer and a
> former microbiology student, racking my brains to remember something one
> of my lecturers once said! Apparently there's a particular soil microbe
> which gives soil its characteristic smell. I'd like to mention it in a
> story I'm writing, but I can't remember the organism's name for the life
> of me, and my research hasn't turned it up. I'd be most grateful for any
Good luck, Kate. According to Dr. David Perry, a single cubic foot of
soil contains some 15,000 such microbes. I am unaware of a single-smell
any particular organism may exude (except potassium cyanide seems to be
common: burnt almonds).
However, many soil fungi _do_ have rather distinctive smells, which are
often clues to their fruiting about this time of year. Ones that I find
particularly identifiable are matsutake (Tricholoma magnilevare);
chanterelles (Cantharellus formosus) and Hydnellum peckii (Peck's
Hydnum), and truffles (Tuber, Leucangium, Picoa, Hydnotrya sps). Several
fungi also have strong, floral scents, similar to hyacinths or cinnamon.
Daniel B. Wheeler
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