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  • feedwordpress 08:01:18 on 2019/05/25 Permalink
    Tags: bacteria, , , Dahl, Dahlia, fungus, , , microbes, , ,   

    “In the end everything is connected”*… 


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    Ectomycorrhizal mushroom Dermocybe-1280x720

    A fungus known as a Dermocybe forms part of the underground wood wide web that stitches together California’s forests [source]

    Research has shown that beneath every forest and wood there is a complex underground web of roots, fungi and bacteria helping to connect trees and plants to one another.

    This subterranean social network, nearly 500 million years old, has become known as the “wood wide web.”

    Now, an international study has produced the first global map of the “mycorrhizal fungi networks” dominating this secretive world…

    Mycorrhizal ecologist Dr Merlin Sheldrake, said, “Plants’ relationships with mycorrhizal fungi underpin much of life on land. This study … provides key information about who lives where, and why. This dataset will help researchers scale up from the very small to the very large.”…

    fungus map

    The underground network of microbes that connects trees—charted for first time: “Wood Wide Web: trees’ social networks are mapped.”

    Read the Nature release that reports the research here.

    * José Eduardo Agualusa, The Book of Chameleons

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    As we contemplate connection, we might spare a thought for Anders (Andreas) Dahl; he died on this date in 1789.  A botanist and student of Carl Linnaeus, he is the inspiration for, the namesake of, the dahlia flower.

    220px-Double_dahlia

    Dahlia, the flower named after Anders Dahl [source]

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:05 on 2014/07/15 Permalink
    Tags: archaea, bacteria, , eukarote, , , microbiology, prokaryote, , , Woese   

    “Such is the essential mystery”*… 


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    For about a billion years, life on earth was a relatively simple proposition: it was composed entirely of single-celled organisms (prokaryotes) in either the bacteria or archaea families.  Then, about 2.1 billion years ago, one of those single-celled critters crawled inside another; the two merged, and a new kind of life– multi-cellular (eukaryotic) life– was born…

    This inner cell—a bacterium—abandoned its free-living existence and eventually transformed into mitochondria. These internal power plants provided the host cell with a bonanza of energy, allowing it to evolve in new directions that other prokaryotes could never reach.

    If this story is true, and there are still those who doubt it, then all eukaryotes—every flower and fungus, spider and sparrow, man and woman—descended from a sudden and breathtakingly improbable merger between two microbes. They were our great-great-great-great-…-great-grandparents, and by becoming one, they laid the groundwork for the life forms that seem to make our planet so special. The world as we see it (and the fact that we see it at all; eyes are a eukaryotic invention) was irrevocably changed by that fateful union—a union so unlikely that it very well might not have happened at all, leaving our world forever dominated by microbes, never to welcome sophisticated and amazing life like trees, mushrooms, caterpillars, and us.

    Read the extraordinary story of how one freakish event may well account for all sophisticated life on earth in “The unique merger that made You (and Ewe, and Yew).”

    * Lao Tzu

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    As we fill out our family trees, we might send microscopic birthday greetings to Carl Woese; he was born on this date in 1928.  A microbiologist, Woese recognized and defined (in 1977) the existence of archaea as a third domain of life, distinct from the two previously-recognized domains, bacteria and “life other than bacteria” (eukaryotes).  The discovery revolutionized the understanding of the “family tree” of life.  And the technique he used to make it– phylogenetic taxonomy of 16S ribosomal RNA– revolutionized the practice of microbiology.

     source

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:32 on 2014/04/24 Permalink
    Tags: bacteria, bubonic plague, , , John Graunt, mammals, ,   

    “The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on earth, living or dead, as we now have”*… 


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    From the always-amazing Randall Munroe, who reminds us that bacteria still outweigh us thousands to one– and that’s not counting the pounds of them in each of our bodies…

    * “The fact is that no species has ever had such wholesale control over everything on earth, living or dead, as we now have. That lays upon us, whether we like it or not, an awesome responsibility. In our hands now lies not only our own future, but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the earth.” 
    ― David AttenboroughLife on Earth

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    As we watch our weight, we might send carefully-calculated birthday greetings to John Graunt; he was born on this date in 1620.  A London haberdasher by trade, Graunt was fascinated the human tide that swelled around him– a fascination that led him to create the first statistically-based estimation of the population of London in his book Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of Mortality, undertaken as Charles II and other officials were trying to create a system to warn of the onset and spread of bubonic plague in the city.  Profiled as one of Aubrey’s Brief Lives, Graunt has been called the first statistician, the first demographer, and was in any case the first statistician to become a fellow of the Royal Society of London.

     source

     

     
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