It is thought to have been responsible for the deaths of emperors. In parts of California’s forests, it is everywhere.It is the deathcap mushroom, Amanita phalloides, so filled with toxins that a single cap can kill anyone who mistakenly eats it and does not get medical treatment. Because it looks like an edible mushroom, the deathcap is among those most involved in human poisoning, such as one that occurred in Newton, Mass., last fall. Through history, it has been a convenient tool for those interested in regime change, playing a key role in the Europe-spanning War of Austrian Succession in the 1700s, which started when Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI died after eating a plate of mushrooms, thought to be deathcaps.Though much is known about the deathcap’s toxicity — it kills by fostering liver failure — much less is understood about its general biology and its role in the environment. Anne Pringle, associate professor of organismic and evolutionary biology, is out to change that.Pringle has spent years in California’s forests, researching the deathcaps that in some parts of the state make up as much as 80 percent of the local biomass of mushrooms. Pringle proved first that the California population was not native, but rather an introduced population from Europe.She’s working now to understand the mushroom’s dispersal across the landscape and its symbiotic partnership with trees. Its widespread presence begs the questions of whether it displaced native symbiotic fungi and whether it spreads more easily as a mutualist (an organism in a relationship beneficial to both partners) than it would as a pathogen, which characterizes most known invasive fungi. She recently concluded that it reproduces more readily through the spread of its spores, which are released from the fleshy gills under its cap, than asexually through fragmentation of its thready subterranean fungal body.Like most mushroom-producing fungi, much of the deathcap’s body actually lies under the Earth’s surface, and its mushrooms are temporary, sent up from the underground filaments to release spores and then fade. Even with the mushroom gone, the fungus still operates underground, decomposing old plant matter and, in the case of the deathcap, partnering with tree roots, providing nitrogen in exchange for carbon compounds.Pringle’s work, conducted through a combination of old-fashioned fieldwork and cutting-edge genetic analysis, has shown that the deathcap spreads slowly. It moves through either the slow creep of its underground body or the floating spread of its spores, which do not drift far from their release point.Humans likely played a big role in the fungus’ spread. Because it lives in association with tree roots, researchers believe it was introduced here from Europe at least twice — once in California and once on the East Coast — by hitching rides on trees transplanted from Europe to America.On the East Coast, Pringle and researchers from her lab have identified dozens of populations: in Newton, near the New Jersey Pine Barrens, near Rochester, N.Y., and in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Pringle says the populations on the East Coast are isolated, not widespread as in California. Another wrinkle of the East Coast populations is that deathcaps are associated with pine trees, not the oaks that they partner with in California and Europe. Pringle and doctoral student Ben Wolfe said that may be because of a slightly different strain being introduced on the East Coast, or it may be because of ecological constraints put on the population on the East Coast by closely related native species, also from the genus Amanita.Though the deathcap may be the star of Pringle’s lab, her work includes other fungal species, as well as lichens, a symbiotic association of fungi and algae.Wolfe, who expects to graduate in December, is working with the U.S. Department of Energy to decode the genome of Amanita species related to the deathcap. He hopes to understand the genetic roots of fungal symbiosis with trees. A bonus of decoding the fungi’s genome, Wolfe said, would be that, in degrading plant material, the fungi produces an enzyme called cellulase, of potential interest in biofuel processing.In talking about her work, Pringle emphasizes the importance of fungal conservation. Fungi have not received the attention that plants and animals have, so less is known about them. With the planet undergoing an extinction crisis, we may be losing fungal species before we even know they’re here, Pringle said.
Share on WhatsApp Share on Twitter Share on Messenger The Austrian champions, semi-finalists last season, drew level in the 55th minute when Hannes Wolf collected a Takumi Minamino flick and cut the ball back for the Israel international Munas Dabbur to squeeze his shot past Craig Gordon from six yards.Just after the hour, Andreas Ulmer’s cutback was tucked away by Minamino at the second attempt, before Forrest bundled over Ulmer inside the box after being caught in possession. He was sent off for denying a clear scoring opportunity and Dabbur took care of the spot-kick.Victory for Salzburg put them top of Group B. Celtic’s next game is at RB Leipzig on 25 October. The German side beat Rosenborg 3-1 in the group’s other game.Alfredo Morelos’s late goal sealed a 3-1 home win for Rangers against Rapid Vienna. Villarreal drew 3-3 with Rangers’ next opponents Spartak Moscow in the group’s other match in Moscow.Loris Karius, on loan from Liverpool, had another European night to forget for Besiktas at Malmö in Group I. Andreas Vindheim’s cross deflected off Caner Erkin and arced over the German goalkeeper’s outstretched hand into the net. The Swedish side went on to win 2-0. Read more news Red Bull Salzburg In Group F, Milan hit back after trailing early to beat Olympiakos 3-1 at the San Siro. Miguel Guerrero grabbed a shock lead only for Milan to hit back through a Patrick Cutrone double and one from Gonzalo Higuaín. In the group’s other game, Antonio Sanabria, Giovani Lo Celso and Cristian Tello propelled Real Betis to a 3-0 win against the Luxembourg minnows Dudelange. Bayer Leverkusen fought back from a goal down to seal a 4-2 Group A win against AEK Larnaca at the BayArena. The club belied their poor Bundesliga form to overhaul Ivan Trickovski’s opener through strikes by Kai Havertz, two from Lucas Alario and one from Julian Brandt, while Dimitris Raspas brought up the second for the Cypriot side. Arsenal’s Group E rivals Sporting Lisbon snatched a 2-1 win at Vorskla Poltava as Fredy Montero and Jovane Cabral scored in injury time in response to Vladyslav Kulach’s early effort for the hosts.In Group D, Dinamo Zagreb won 2-0 at 10-man Anderlecht and Fenerbahce beat Spartak Trnava 2-0 thanks to a double from Islam Slimani, on loan from Leicester. Sokratis Papastathopoulos strikes early as Arsenal pass Qarabag test with ease Alfredo Morelos plays Rangers’ Euro star in victory over Rapid Vienna Celtic Olympiakos Europa League Share via Email Share on Pinterest Read more The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. Topics Share on LinkedIn Milan Reuse this content Share on Facebook Red Bull Salzburg proved too good for Celtic as they came back from an early deficit to beat Brendan Rodgers’s side 3-1 in Group B. James Forrest was sent off in the second half and in the process presented Salzburg with a penalty to seal the win.The French striker Odsonne Édouard gave Celtic the lead at the Red Bull Arena after less than two minutes when he used his strength before firing in from 12 yards.