Spongebob Squarepants Sighted In Borneo Forests
By Tiffany Chua Copok | Featured Research
June 16, 2011
A new species of mushroom from Sarawak has been named after the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants.
AsianScientist (Jun. 16, 2011) – Who lives in the rainforest, under the tree? Absorbent and orange and porous is he!
A new species of mushroom, Spongiforma squarepantsii, found recently in Sarawak on the island of Borneo, has been named after the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants.
S. Squarepantsii is a bright orange fungus that smells “vaguely fruity or strongly musty,” according to researchers from San Francisco State University (SFSU). The fungus turns purple when sprinkled with a strong chemical base.
Under a scanning electron microscope, the spore producing area of the fungus looks like a seafloor carpeted in tube sponges.
The fungus lacks a cap and stem, making it act just like a sponge; squeeze water out of it and it will spring back to its original form, something most mushrooms don’t do.
The new species is only one of two species in the Spongiforma genus. The other species is found in central Thailand and differs in color and odor. Close examination and genetic analysis though revealed that the two are relatives living thousands of miles apart.
“We go to unexplored forests around the world and we spend months at a time collecting all the mushrooms and focusing on various groups,” said Dennis Desjardin, a professor of ecology and evolution in SFSU.
“When we do that type of work, on average, anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of the species are new to science,” he added.
“Spongiforma squarepantsii, a new species of gasteroid bolete from Borneo” was published in the May/June 2011 issue of Mycologia.
Source: San Francisco State University.
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