A little more detailed this post than my usual Friday posts but I found this articular very interesting, if only for the fact that its amazing just how much there is to be found in our local woodlands and just how much study is being carried ou,t even after so many years to revival the hidden secrets to the life that surrounds us on our daily walks along a forest path …..
Most people know lichens, such as this wolf lichen, as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark. You probably learned in school that they’re a mutually beneficial partnership or “symbiosis” between fungi and algae, but many lichens have now been found to include a third partner, a yeast. (Tim Wheeler Photography)
Most people know lichens as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark, and learned in school that they’re a mutually beneficial partnership or “symbiosis” between fungi and algae.
But lichen scientists have made the shocking new discovery that many lichens are also made up of a previously undiscovered third partner — a new kind of yeast.
Not only does that potentially alter the fundamental definition of what a lichen is, but it “should change expectations about the diversity and ubiquity” of the organisms that form them, says a new study published Thursday in Science.
University of Montana researcher Toby Spribille samples Bryoria or horsehair lichens. He first started studying lichens 15 years ago in British Columbia. His new study was inspired by a mystery flagged by B.C. lichenologist Trevor Goward. (Christoph Rosche)
The new yeast has apparently gone undetected in lichens for more than a century, despite the fact that scientists all over the world have devoted entire careers to studying lichens closely with microscopes and genetic testing.
That seemed so unlikely that the scientists working on the project had trouble believing it themselves.
“It’s so surprising that you kind of doubt yourself for a long time,” said John McCutcheon, a microbiologist at the University of Montana and a research fellow with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research who co-authored the new study published today in Science.
“We had to check our data more than 10 times,” recalled Toby Spribille, lead author of the paper. “It seemed to me so unlikely that so many people would have missed that.”
Spribille, a University of Montana botanist who first started studying lichens in British Columbia 15 years ago, was inspired by a mystery flagged by B.C. lichenologist Trevor Goward in a series of essays.
Wila or edible horsehair lichen, also known by the scientific name Bryoria fremontii, is a brown-coloured lichen that was an important traditional food for many First Nations in northwestern North America. (Toby Spribille)
It concerned two lichens that grow in B.C. and Montana and considered separate species for 100 years. One called wila or edible horsehair lichen, also known by the scientific name Bryoria fremontii, is a brown-coloured lichen that was an important traditional food for many First Nations in northwestern North America.
The other, called tortured horsehair lichen or Bryoria tortuosa, is yellow and poisonous. However, a recent genetic analysis showed that they were genetically identical — they were made up of exactly the same species of fungus and the same species of algae.
“There’s something really weird about that,” Spribille said.
Tortured horsehair lichen or Bryoria tortuosa, is yellow and poisonous. However, a recent genetic analysis showed that its fungus species and algae species are genetically identical to those in edible horsehair lichen. (Tim Wheeler)
He brought the problem up with McCutcheon, an expert in new, sophisticated genetic techniques that he typically uses to study insects.
Traditional DNA analysis relies on probes or lures to fish out certain characteristic regions of genetic material, partly based on what scientists expect to find — like calling out names in a dark room to see who’s there, Spribille said.
Newer techniques instead look for all genes that are in the process of being translated into proteins via “messenger” molecules called RNA. Spribille likens the technique to turning on the lights.
McCutcheon says that gives a sense of what an organism is doing at any given time.
To the researchers’ surprise, the RNA they found came not just from the fungus and the alga known to be associated with the lichens, but a mysterious third organism.
Further analysis showed it to be a new kind of yeast, belonging to the taxonomic group Basidiomycota, the same one that button mushrooms belong to. It was not at all related to the yeasts used to brew beer or bake bread. Yeast cells and DNA were extremely common in the yellow, poisonous lichen, but rare in the edible brown lichen.
A fluorescent microscope image shows the location of different cell types in a bryoria lichen, cut at the ends and lengthwise through the middle. Green are the yeasts, blue are the fungi, red are the algae. (Toby Spribille)
After running the experiment enough times to convince themselves the signal wasn’t due to contamination and pinpointing the yeast cells in the outer skin of the lichen, the researchers decided to see whether other lichens from around the world also contained the yeast. Sure enough, many did.
“Each lichen has a specific strain of the yeast,” McCutcheon said. “These form several new fungal families.”
DNA analysis suggests the yeast has been part of lichens for more than 100 million years — since the end of the Early Cretaceous, when dinosaurs like spinosaurus and allosaurus roamed the Earth, and flowering plants first appeared.
Spribille said the discovery “seriously challenges” a lot of assumptions that have been held by lichenologists for a century.
“At the next level up, it gives us insight into how one of the most fascinating symbioses works.”
‘Really major finding’
Goward, whose essay inspired the research, said he was delighted by the discovery.
“It’s all very exciting to me,” he added. “If Toby’s idea proves to be correct, this is the second really major finding that changes how we see these organisms” — after the 1860s discovery that lichens weren’t one organism, but made of two separate organisms, an alga and a fungus.
Irwin Brodo, an emeritus scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa who has devoted himself to the study of lichens for decades, said the discovery was “plausible” but “not proven yet.”
Brodo, who first gave the horsehair lichens the name Bryoria, said he was surprised that the new yeast cells were discovered in a part of the lichen that a lot of lichenologists, including himself, have examined carefully.
“I never saw them,” he said.
But he added that the presence of the yeast might also explain other longstanding mysteries about other lichens that look very different but have been found to be genetically identical.
Today was a typical Autumn day here in country Kilkenny, we have had some mixed weather over the last few days, some sun , some rain. Today was mild but wet, so all the falling leaves were full of rain drops something I just had to capture 🙂
Though the little clouds ran southward still, the quiet autumnal
Cool of the late September evening
Seemed promising rain, rain, the change of the year, the angel
Of the sad forest.
A heron flew over with that remote ridiculous cry, “Quawk,” the cry
That seems to make silence more silent. A dozen
Flops of the wing, a drooping glide, at the end of the glide
The cry, and a dozen flops of the wing.
I watched him pass on the autumn-colored sky; beyond him
Jupiter shone for evening star.
The sea’s voice worked into my mood, I thought “No matter
What happens to men . . . the world’s well made though.”
To Autumn, By John Keats
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
Neil Munro (1864 – 1930) was born in Inveraray and worked as a journalist on various Scottish newspapers. He wrote a number of historical novels but is best known for his humorous stories about the fictional Clyde puffer the Vital Spark and her captain Para Handy, written under the pen name of Hugh Foulis.
Although Neil Munro didn’t emigrate any further than Glasgow, his background (his grandmother was from a Gaelic-speaking part of the Highlands) would have given him an insight into emigration and what it felt like to be an exile. This poem is written more from the perspective of someone who stayed behind.
Are you not weary in your distant places,
Far, far from Scotland of the mist and storm,
In drowsy airs, the sun-smite on your faces,
The days so long and warm?
When all around you lie the strange fields sleeping,
The dreary woods where no fond memories roam,
Do not your sad hearts over seas come leaping
To the highlands and the lowlands of your Home?
Wild cries the Winter, loud through all our valleys
The midnights roar, the grey noons echo back;
About the scalloped coasts the eager galleys
Beat for kind harbours from horizons black:
We tread the miry roads, the rain-drenched heather,
We are the men, we battle, we endure!
God’s pity for you people in your weather
Of swooning winds, calm seas, and skies demure!
Let torrents pour then, let the great winds rally,
Snow-silence fall, or lightning blast the pine;
That light of Home shines warmly in the valley,
And, exiled son of Scotland, it is thine.
Far have you wandered over seas of longing,
And now you drowse, and now you well may weep,
When all the recollections come a-thronging
Of this old country where your fathers sleep.
They sleep, but still the hearth is warmly glowing,
While the wild Winter blusters round their land:
That light of Home, the wind so bitter blowing
Look, look and listen, do you understand?
Love, strength, and tempest-oh, come back and share them!
Here is the cottage, here the open door;
Fond are our hearts although we do not bare them,
– They’re yours, and you are ours for evermore.
Friday Morning – Poem by Ghada Shahbender
A blank wall the ugly color of dust
Two drain pipes covered in pigeon droppings and rust
I roll down the shutters to keep Friday morning out
The humid air, the children who swear and the parents that shout.
Newspapers, a cigarette and a huge coffee cup
Heart pouring to Kika, waiting for my children to wake up.
Remembering the years when they came to my bed at dawn
Droopy eyes and toothless mouths open wide in a sweet breathed yawn.
They have grown up and I have aged.
The boys actually drive and the girl is engaged.
I tell the parrot it’s been a wonderful trip.
I pick up my coffee and take another sip.
Viburnum Opulus Hedging
Guelder Rose, Viburnum opulus, is one of Britain’s most beautiful native shrubs and it makes a great hedging plant, typically in a mixed country hedge. It also make a fine ornamental shrub for any garden: in the wild, it is often found in dappled woodland shade, but it needs full sun to give you the best show of flowers. Guelder Rose bushes will grow pretty much anywhere, including shady sites under large trees and chalky soils. It prefers a moist soil and will tolerate periods of waterlogging.
Guelder Rose is good for hedges up to about 5 metres high.
Browse all of our other varieties of Viburnum trees & shrubs plants. Alternatively, view our selection of native hedging or see our full range of hedging plants.
Guelder Rose hedge plants are only delivered bareroot, during winter (Nov-March).
Choosing a size: When you are ordering Guelder Rose plants for a hedge, we suggest that you buy smaller plants if you are not in a rush. They are cheaper and easier to handle than large plants. They will also give you a bushy hedge with little effort.
Spacing Guelder Rose hedging:
Plant Guelder Rose at 3 plants per metre, 33cms apart.
You can also plant Guelder Rose at 5 plants per metre in a staggered double row, with 33 cms between each plant and 40cms between the rows.
The Guelder Rose makes an excellent mixed hedge plant, typically with hawthorn.
General description of Guelder Rose plants:
It has large, three lobed leaves that colour up in autumn with a jumble of tones that bleed together in a rough, rustic manner. The flowers are quite unique, with a ring of dainty little smooth star shaped flowers rising above bed of even smaller, bud-like blooms. The smaller flowers are the ones that ripen into blood red fruit, in time for the excellent red and yellow autumn colours.
History & uses of Viburnum opulus
The Guelder Rose isn’t a rose at all, it is closely related to the elderflowers. The name probably comes from the Dutch region of Gelderland. Guelder Rose berries were one of the secondary food sources that our ancestors would have depended upon in hard times. We don’t recommend eating them, as even slightly unripe fruit will cause stomach upsets, but if civilisation happens to collapse and you find yourself living in the woods, you could feed yourself by boiling up them up into a soup. Until then, we recommend leaving the berries for the birds.
One of the most amazing sights at this time of year is one of all the Wild Mushrooms that appear in our local forests and fields, Ireland has some approximately 5,500 known species found throughout the country, some very common and some very hard to find.
I just love finding them as they appear on the woodland floor and on the dead wood alone with the lower parts of trees.
A collection of images, all taken on my favorite beach in county Wexford – Duncannon beach, with its fort overlooking one end of the beach and a view down toward hook head at the other. The Sunsets here in October can be amazing and full of Autumn light 🙂 🙂
There are also pictures here of Molly, our much loved golden retriever, she is sadly no longer with us but she is always remembered and missed for moment like these ones. It was always great fun watching her exploring beaches and the sea, she love swimming so much she would spend hours returning sticks and balls from the water 🙂 🙂