Montana Public Radio

fungi

From bridges to skyscrapers, concrete is ubiquitous in modern, human-built environments. It’s durable and cheap but also a big contributor to climate change, and some of the materials used to make it are getting scarcer. Researchers at Montana State University are trying to develop a sustainable alternative with microorganisms.

At MSU’s Center for Biofilm Engineering, Assistant Research Professor Erika Espinosa-Ortiz walks over to an incubator filled with glass chemistry flasks.

Lichens are a combination of fungi and algae living together in a symbiotic relationship. In this symbiosis, the fungi and algae benefit from each other. This evolutionary adaptation allows lichens to grow in some incredibly harsh environments: in deserts and in the Arctic, on barren tundra and on bare rock. Lichens grow in such rugged environments that some early naturalists thought they existed on nothing but air and sunlight.

'Field Notes' Takes The Mystery Out Of Mushrooms

May 10, 2020
Mushrooms
(PD)

Throughout the human history of traipsing the earth in search of edibles, mushrooms have undoubtedly been the least understood and most feared flora in the forests of the world. Early Greeks and Romans thought most mushrooms were sinister, evil things. They associated them with dark, damp areas of decay and often depicted mushrooms in the company of snakes or toads, two key ingredients in witches’ cauldrons.

Truffles, Trees And — Squirrels?

Apr 7, 2019
Truffle With A Squirrel Bite
FLICKR USER, SCOTT DARBEY (CC-BY-2.0)

Walking through the woods recently, I saw a red squirrel digging in the litter of the forest floor. I assumed it was burying a pine cone, but on closer inspection I found a piece of mushroom. Little did I know I was witnessing a process critical to the survival of a forest.

Birger Fricke

"Early last fall, I was walking with my dog in the late evening. As we approached a tall silver maple, Benally pulled the leash taut in a fit of canine curiosity. I looked down to find him sniffing through a patch of peculiar-shaped mushrooms that were growing above the maple's roots.