Oldest, Oddest Fungi Finally Photographed

The fungal cells in this picture are so small and hard to detect that they had to be colored with fluorescent dye before they could be recorded. They are attached to algae cells.
The first views suggest that unlike any other fungi known, these might live as essentially naked cells without the rigid cell wall that supposedly defines a fungus, says Tom Richards of the Natural History Museum in London and the University of Exeter in England. He calls these long-overlooked fungi cryptomycota, or “hidden fungi.” Of the life stages seen so far, a swimming form and one attached to algal cells, there’s no sign of the usual outer coat rich in a tough material called chitin, Richards and his colleagues report online May 11 in Nature.

“People are going to be excited,” predicts mycologist Tim James of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who also studies an ancient group of fungi.

But now scientists will have to either redefine what a fungus is, or classify a new group of species that are "almost-fungus." Read more about it at Wired Science. Link

(Image credit: Meredith Jones)

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