Fungus Has a Libido, Force it to Horizontal Mombo for Renewable Biofuels

Fungus SexThere’s a problem with biofuels. The problem is, in order to make them, you’ve got to grow crops like mad, break down the crops into oil and alcohol, and stick the juice in your car. If you grow crops like mad, you’ve got to use enormous amounts of fertilizer, which pours into ground water and into oceans and depletes oxygen supplies, creating oceanic dead zones, which are way scary. No life can live in them The picture isn’t good. So scientists are looking for a way to use organisms to break down plant waste so we can use bio garbage as bio fuel instead.

The organism they’re focusing on is Trichoderma reesei, pictured above in an electron microscope. It’s especially effective in eating organic material, witnessed first in the Solomon Islands during World War II eating soldiers’ clothing and tents.

The reason they didn’t use it until now was that they didn’t think they could breed the fungus to produce genetically superior consumers since it was asexual, but now, they’ve discovered that, voila! The mushroom does have sex, and thank God for that. Researchers actually made it have sex. (With our culture, who would doubt it?)

How did they do it? They probed their DNA (pun intended), and pinpointed the genes responsible for mating. Though they found those genes, they couldn’t force the fungus to assume a female role. So instead they took the fungus’ cousin, Hypocrea jecorina (like your cousin, except more fungal), and mated that with two mutant Trichoderma reesei strains that are especially good at breaking down organic sludge.

Eventually, they hope to produce a strong, healthy, sexually capable strain that breaks down organic waste fast enough to fuel cars.

We wish them Godspeed, and a happy forced fungal mating.

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