Humongous fungus is almost as big as the Mall of America

first_img By Elizabeth PennisiOct. 10, 2018 , 12:20 PM ‘Humongous fungus’ is almost as big as the Mall of America Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Email But even with its new size estimate, the Michigan fungus has already been eclipsed by a different Armillaria in Oregon, discovered in 1998. That one, now the largest organism in the world, may be more than 8000 years old and covers more than 770 hectares. Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo In the late 1980s, researchers discovered the biggest organism on record, a “humongous fungus” on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that covered 37 hectares, about the same size as the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Now, the same team of scientists has found that this Armillaria gallica, which gives rise to honey mushrooms (above), is about four times as big—and twice as old—as they originally thought.Like other fungi, Armillaria sprouts tiny threads underground; but unlike most fungi, these threads fuse to form shoelace-size strings that extend great distances to consume dead or weak wood. To find out how big the massive underground network of fungus really was, the scientists took 245 far-flung string samples and analyzed their genes. Not only did they belong to the same individual fungus, but—based on how fast the underground strands grow—that fungus must be at least 2500 years old, they report in a non–peer-reviewed study posted last week to the bioRxiv preprint server.By sequencing the genomes of 15 evenly distributed samples, the researchers could also see how the honey mushroom’s genome changed over time. To their surprise, it has a very slow mutation rate, with just 163 genetic changes among the genome’s 100 million bases. Mutation rates often reflect how quickly an organism can evolve—and this fungus, it seems, doesn’t evolve very fast. The researchers aren’t sure how the mutations rate is kept in check, though a well-developed DNA mechanism or simply being underground and out of sunlight may do the trick.last_img read more