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.
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