Friday, July 7, 2017

A Fungus May Help Keep Your Chocolate Alive (Seriously) #Science #Nutrition #Chocolate

This one has a high level of creepy on the surface but roll with it since it will reveal to be much cooler than you may anticipate.

Foliar endophytic fungi are part of the plant leaf microbiome, and are easily grown in culture. 

Credit: Natalie Christian

Those who crave brownies or hot cocoa may be happy to hear that heroes too small to be seen may help to protect the world's chocolate supply. Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama found that exposing baby cacao plants to microbes from healthy adult cacao plants reduced the plant's chance of becoming infected with the serious cacao pathogen, Phytopthora palmivora, by half. The researchers' study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on July 5.  Litter bugs may protect chocolate supply

That's not actual behavior but it has almost a maternal vibe to it.  The Rockhouse thinks that's cool.

Ed:  you may need to adjust your coolness paradigm

So long as it includes chocolate, how bad can it be.

Researchers at STRI have investigated the interactions between plants and their microbes for the past 20 years. They were the first to show that in tropical forests, where cacao grows, every leaf is home to hundreds of different fungi and bacteria, and that applying helpful microbes to leaves in field treatments protected cacao from disease. Researchers found that specific fungal species, such as Colletotrichum tropicale, protect plants from their enemies—the pathogens and insects that eat them. Research at STRI has also shown that, as with humans, microbes stimulate plants' ability to defend themselves and has demonstrated the magnitude and extent of endophyte effects on host genetic expression.

- PO

The interested student may end up devoting years to this study since the interrelationships across species between organisms have been showing all kinds of promise.  There's research into the functional aspect of relationships between species and also the genetics in terms of how unlike specifies can have knowledge of the DNA of the other.  The latter was the field of Richard Dawkins before he blew his cork on on anti-religion.

If you're not interested in further pursuing it, do enjoy your chocolate since it seems these creatures are working diligently to ensure it's plentiful.

Maggie May:  thanks one hell of a lot.  Now that I know what's in it, how can I ever eat chocolate again.

Hmmm ... I hadn't considered that reaction.  Uh, sorry about that ... I guess.

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