Penicillin breeding experiments!

Scientists used their understanding of the MAT (mating) genes to induce penicillin mold to reproduce sexually, producing spores with new gene combinations. They hope to breed new strains that will kill antibiotic-resistant disease germs. And now that they have induced penicillin to breed, instead of merely producing identical spores, for the first time in a hundred years, they’ll try the same with other important fungi, such as those that produce other antibiotics.

The largest living organism

In August of 2000, Catherine Parks of the US Forest Service in Oregon and others* reported that they had found a fungus ( Armillaria ostoyae) in the Blue Mountains/Malheur National Forest in Eastern Oregon. The fungus is nearly 900 hectares square (2,200 acres or 3.4 square miles) and is estimated to be more than 2,400 years old.

+Her colleagues were Brennan Ferguson, Oregon State University; Tina Dreisbach, PNW Research Station, Forest Service; Greg Filip, Oregon State University; and Craig Schmitt, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Forest Service.

This means that part of the forest is growing in an environment of a particular fungus.

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