To Clean Up The Mine, Let Fungus Reproduce
Researchers have discovered that an Ascomycete fungus that is common in polluted water produces environmentally important minerals during asexual reproduction. The key chemical in the process, superoxide, is a byproduct of fungal growth when the organism produces spores. Once released into the environment, superoxide reacts with the element manganese (Mn), producing a highly reactive mineral that aids in the cleanup of toxic metals, degrades carbon substrates, and controls the bioavailability of nutrients. The results, which will inform a wide range of future studies in microbiology, environmental chemistry, developmental biology, and geobiology, were published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Image credit: Colleen Hansel