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Ascopolyporus polychrous by @kallampero . Happy Tuesday everyone! @kallampero here, back with a very dear, personal favorite fungus to share with you. Her name is polychrous. The awesomeness of this species is only exceeded by the rarity of its mentions in the mycological literature. . A. polychrous, along with an as of yet undetermined number of similar species, exhibit a kind of dual parasitism found in very few places in kingdom fungi. They begin as parasites of scale insects and whiteflies, which feed on bamboo. In consuming the insect, the fungus makes sure to keep the insect's stylet (drinking straw-like mouth parts) intact. It then goes on to use the bug's own disembodied mouth to bamboo juice and grow to many, many times its previous size. Yes, you read that right: this fungus not only takes its insect host's lunch money, it takes its danged lunch as well! . The photo series here shows the incredible changes in color, consistency, and construction A. polychrous undergoes as it matures. It begins as a tiny, watery-gelatinous ball, either white or purple. Overtime, it will begin to harden from the inside. It is during this stage that this species is, in my opinion, at its most striking (I have always likened image 4 to a spiral galaxy suspended in grape jello!). Now fully firm, usually turning some shade of yellow or pumpkin-colored, the (flask-shaped spore factories) are formed along the surface of its bottom half. It's the location and arrangement of these perithecia that gives Ascopolyporus its name, since they resemble conks or shelf mushrooms, which similarly position the party underneath (pores) and the business on top (sterile, protective tissue). . And as if A. polychrous were lacking any coolness, they are a mainstay food source for Goeldi's monkey (Callimico goeldii) in the Amazon basin. Ahhhh! I'm in love! 🍄😍🐒😍🍄 . . . . . . . . .

Hi hello once again! It's your fungus friend, @kallampero, continuing with my one-week account takeover for @unbiodiversity. I decided that I would be remiss if all I did was show you flashy macro photos of charismatic fungi and not include any (microscope photography). This is a critically-important, labor-intensive, occassionally-intimidating, frequently-frustrating, but highly-rewarding part of working in mycology. I can't not share it with you! . Broadly speaking, is concerned with and responsible for the 'who,' while other areas of biology tackle the 'what,' 'when,' 'where,' and 'why.' We could just as well be called "existicians" or "thingologists". Our business is the business of knowing who populates the planet, who they're related to, and how to tell them apart from one another. The microscope is -- and I can't stress this enough -- an *indispensible tool* in this pursuit. In the last 30ish years, DNA sequencing has also become a highly helpful instrument for identifying fungi and building fungal family trees, but when it takes the place of detailed taxonomic observation rather than complimenting it, it can lead to a lot of mess*. . Included here are a few photos from a few types of and methods, which are suited to revealing different types of features, but I only have enough space in this post to talk about one of them: transmitted light microscopy (images x-x). This is one of the oldest, least expensive, and most widespread microscopic methods out there. Put simply, it works by having your eyeballs and microscope objectives on one end, a light source on another, and your thinly sliced or squashed tissue sample placed in between two pieces of glass in the middle. If the sample is thin/flat enough and not too dark, the light will shine through it. . Find me in the comments if you want to know more! . *https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13225-019-00428-3 . . . . . .

Ceratiomyxa morchella by @kallampero Vohimana Forest, Andasibe, Madagascar https://mushroomobserver.org/271223 . Hey friends! @kallampero again for more account takeover goodness on the @unbiodiversity page. Today it's time to talk about the wonderful world of . These creatures were once considered fungi, but are now amoebas. We still love and welcome myxomycetologists (slime mold studiers) in academic mycology, as with team water molds (Oomycetes), which suffered a similar expulsion from the kingdom some time ago.  Fungi are great, but so are fungoids! . Slime molds are perhaps most famous for two things: being the inspiration for the 1950s sci-fi horror classic, , and their aptitude for civil engineering.  The latter case comes from a study* undertaken in Japan in 2010, in which a scale of the Tokyo rail system was constructed in miniature, with each node/station being replaced with oats. That same species from The Blob, Physarum polycephalum, was introduced into the and left to wander.  After just a few rounds, the slime mold's (exploratory slime stage) arrived at the single most mathematically efficient way of connecting the stations to one another; *more efficiently than the engineers had designed it themselves*. . The species pictured above is named for its resemblance to morels when in its mature, sporangial stage, as seen here. At under 5mm tall, this specimen would have wilted and withered if looked at with a sideways glance. The genus Ceratiomyxa is known for this enthusiastic fragility. . These little wonders are even more understudied than their distantly related fungal counterparts.  For nature buffs of the tiny, a trip down the rabbit hole is sure to never, ever disappoint! . *https://science.sciencemag.org/content/327/5964/439 . . . . . . . . . .

Amanita muscaria subsp. flavivolvata by @kallampero Natural Nobels Christmas Tree Farm, Estacada, Oregon, USA https://mushroomobserver.org/227556 . What can be said about this iconic, spellbinding species that hasn't already been said a thousand times or more? The mushroom of and , and of so many children's books and fairytales and fables before that. The putative of the rig vedas and ancient hinduism, and at the heart multiple shamanic traditions from across Siberia and northern Europe. Controvertially hypothesized* to have been the central sacrament of certain proto-Christian mystic sects, and almost certainly the source of the entire mythology. If only half of A. muscaria's purported ethnomycological history were true, it would still be among the most influential and intriguing organisms to have accompanied us in our cultural journey throughout time. Despite seldom focusing on fungi this large or fleshy these days, Amanita muscaria remains my single favorite species of fungus (but don't tell the rest of them I said so!). . Both the species epithet, 'muscaria' (from 'musca,' Latin for fly) and the common name,, harken back to its apparent use in household insect control, dating to at least as far back as the 13th century. The powdered mushrooms would be mixed into milk, a bowl of which is then left on a table or windowsill, attracting flies with its aroma, who either drown in the broth or drop dead beside it. This may have played a role in the widespread misapprehension of A. muscaria being far more dangerous than it actually is. There are no known fatalities from A. muscaria consumption in over 100 years of toxicological record keeping, and in some places, the mushroom is regularly prepared for the table, usually by blanching in several changes of boiling water. No matter how you slice it, A. muscaria is about as fascinating as fungi get! .

The Hunters of Hunters by @kallampero featuring Ophiocordyceps albacongiuae, Ophiocordyceps dipterigena s.l., & two undetermined hyperparasites . It's @kallampero again on day three of my takeover of the @unbiodiversity account. My last post showed what we call in the mycology business an "entomophthoralean" fungus. This is the lesser known of the two major groups of fungi that parasitize insects (aka entomopathogens). The other, significantly more famous one is colloquially known as , sometimes called . You may know them from BBC's , or from the video game . I know them from the forests of eleven countries and counting, and they continue to fascinate and inspire me all the time. Of the life cycles of these fungi that have been studied, many show a kind of hacking of the host's musculature, driving them to an ideal spot for the fungus to sporulate. When that spot is high up, this is sometimes referred to as "summit disease." The fruiting body/reproductive structure we see emerging from the host can take months to fully mature. . But even the "Cordyceps" fungi themselves are not safe from predation. Every so often, one may find a hyperparasite -- a parasite of the parasite -- attacking the "Cordyceps" fungus in a kind of restoration of the organismal karmic balance. I've included here, in images 2 and 4, examples of two such secondary fungi, munching on their respective cordycipitaceous hosts. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to identify, describe, and understand the thousands of still undiscovered entomopathogenic fungi, as well as these peculiar species that hunt the hunters, about which we know very, very little. . . . . . . . . . .

Entomophthora muscae Pandapas Pond, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA https://mushroomobserver.org/366595 . Hi everyone! @kallampero again, this time to introduce you to one of the mortalest of mortal enemies of flies the planet over. This fruiting was found at Pandapas Pond near Blacksburg, Virginia, along with my friend and gracious host, Ava Pope (@avapope88), and several members of the . There were, by our estimates, upwards of 200 of these infected flies covering the needles of an eastern white pine at the corner of the parking lot, right beside a dumpster, some as high as 30 or 40 ft above the ground. A caver friend informed us that just a week prior, there had been swarms of them due to uncollected garbage. Entomophthora muscae, the fungus seen here emerging from the breaks in the fly's exoskeleton, saw to that swiftly. Everything, it seems, is something else's lunch. . Recent studies in entomopathogenic fungi have revealed that the death posture can be diagnostic. Put simply, the yoga pose a fungus puts its bug in before it fruits out of its is unique between and among different species. E. muscae is presently considered a generalist, meaning it occurs on a wide range of different types of flies. We couldn't help but wonder, however, if this rather curious death posture -- hugging bunches of needles together by the feet -- might be significant. A question for the world's precious few entomophthoromycetologists! . . . . . . . . . .

Agaric Hairstyles by @kallampero Reserva Los Cedros, Imbabura, Ecuador . @kallampero here, back again to share with you two of my favorite collections from our recent funded expedition to the Andean cloud forests of . . The first two images are of an unidentified member of the hypercharismatic sect. Longisetae of the genus Mycena, so named for the long, needle-like projections (setae) which cover its cap and stem. One might think, looking at the third and fourth images, that these two mushrooms might be related. One might be mistaken! This second species is still unknown to us, even to genus. The durability of its tissues and the melanized stipe lead us to believe it's a marasmioid of some kind, but a unique and totally perplexing one, both for its own elegant layering of setae, and for its *dorsally attached stipe*, as in a stem which attaches... to the top of the cap. (!)⁣⁣⁣⁣. This is a supremely unusual feature for a gilled mushroom. . Will wonders never cease in the big wide world of the cloud forest? Only if these precious places receive the protection they need and deserve. That's why we were joined on our expedition by the film crew for the upcoming documentary, , to get a sense for just what exactly is at stake in the battle between Ecuadorian forest protectors and large-scale, industrial mining. Check out their excellent trailers at www.marrowofthemountain.com. . . . . . . . . . .

Xylaria tucumanensis by @kallampero Reserva Los Cedros, Cotacachi, Ecuador http://mushroomobserver.org/264287 . Hi everyone! @kallampero here. I'm thrilled and honored to have been invited by @unbiodiversity to introduce you all to my fungal friends for the next week. Get ready for a seven-day fungathon! . This is the first collection of this species made outside its Argentinian type locality (the place the species was first described) and is therefore a new national record for ! It is a beautiful, quite tiny , a genus with incredible tropical diversity, and the speciality of my good friend and research partner, Dr. Roo Vandegrift (@werdnus). The Roy Lab at the has been traveling to Reserva Los Cedros for the past 11 years studying and documenting its fungi, generating over 1740 unique collections. We're showcasing some of that work right now at the annual meeting of the Mycological Society of America () in beautiful Minneapolis, Minnesota! . . . . . . . .

Are you a , , or extraordinaire? Want to show the world why ? .  Apply to take over the @UNBiodiversity Instagram channel for a week! .  Email socialmedia@cbd.int to apply, and include your name, country, a brief biography, your interest in biodiversity, and a link to your Instagram profile! . Tag your favourite influencer, and use the hashtag to get noticed! .  Photos by: @shinaldon, @breakfast- _of champignons, @tynskiphoto, @keith_ellenbogen_photography . @unitednations

To end our Instagram takeover, we thought we'd share a couple of 2019 entries with you that have never been shared before! We give you... a surfing penguin and a drooling tapir! 🤣 For even more hilarious wildlife photos, including more of our 2019 entries, follow us on Instagram @comedywildlifephoto! (📷s by @weisselmar and @antonsrkn)


It appears that it's not just humans that struggle with day... We know, we know - It would have been hilarious if we'd have shared a camel photo for day, but we drew a blank. There are always next year's entries though, if anyone knows of a hilarious camel?! 🐫 (📷 by @ericfisherphotography - Entered into our 2019 @comedywildlifephoto competition)

We're nearing the end of our Instagram takeover and there's just not enough time to show you all of the thousands of hilarious competition entries that we've received over the years... BUT, if you want to see more, you could always follow our Instagram account @comedywildlifephoto! 👈 Here's just a small selection of 2019 entries that we can't resist sharing with you! (📷s by @albasdad, Andy Harris, Mike Rowe, @nicolabeyfus and @roiegalitz)

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