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Rosy Crust - Peniophora incarnata

Good morning and happy Toadstool Tuesday, friends,


The Monday after the Super Bowl is a holiday around the MM offices - I’m a progressive employer. I spent a couple weeks in search of this week’s fungus before I found it in an unlikely place - my parents’ front yard. The last two weeks we were looking at different jelly fungi you can find during the winter, but now we’ll transition to the more durable crust fungi.


This week’s fungus, known as the Rosy Crust (Peniophora incarnata), is a crust that grows year-round but is much more noticeable during the winter months. I found this fungus digesting the dead wood of oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), an invasive vine that constricts trees and usually results in an early death for whatever it wraps around. However, an invasive vine is a light breakfast for this fungus as researchers have found P. incarnata can also break down noxious compounds that are released from the combustion of fossil fuels.


Rosy Crust - Peniophora incarnata

Fun Facts


A study out of South Korea found the fungus has potential to be used in bioremediation projects. As they so elegantly and concisely put it, “The white rot fungus Peniophora incarnata KUC8836 has received an attention as the greatest degrader of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are hazardous xenobiotics and recalcitrant pollutants.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.


Essentially, there are environmentally hazardous compounds (like pyrene and anthracene) found in crude oil and other fossil fuels. When the fuels are burned, these compounds are introduced to the air and soil. The fungus has enzymes that can be used to break down these hazardous by-products from fossil fuels and turn them into simpler carbon compounds.


This was all conducted in a lab setting, so there’s still a long way toward using this fungus for large-scale bioremediation, but it’s reassuring to know that fungi are capable of breaking down these harmful compounds. I imagine they’re already doing so to some extent in contaminated soil or wherever these compounds are found.


Rosy Crust - Peniophora incarnata

Peniophora means “tough” which refers to the durable texture of the crust. The species epithet, incarnata, comes from the latin carn which means “flesh” and refers to the flesh-like, rosy color of the crust. The fruiting bodies can start off as small spots, all rimmed with a white margin, before fusing together to create a contiguous rosy crust.


You can see the white margin and even some small, individual fruiting bodies that haven’t fused to the larger crust.
You can see the white margin and even some small, individual fruiting bodies that haven’t fused to the larger crust.

Ecology


The fungus is saprobic and decomposes a wide range of dead hardwood species - potentially even conifers as well. As previously noted, the fungus can be found year-round and seems to be native to temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. iNaturalist notes that it is an introduced species (and potentially invasive) in New Zealand so it may be spreading to other parts of the southern hemisphere too.


Giraffe Spots (Peniophora albobadia) is a similar species but is brown with a white margin instead of the rose-colored P. incarnata. I see P. albobadia more frequently than I see P. incarnata, probably at a ratio of four or five to one. A different species in the genus, Peniophora rufa, forms small “cushion-shaped” fruit bodies and is a more vibrant reddish orange in color. Mycelium of Peniophora species, including P. incarnata, can be parasitized by species of Tremella, so also look for Witch’s Butter (Tremella mesenterica) when you find this fungus.


The bittersweet vine I took out of my parent’s yard. I counted at least seventeen rings, so that’s been there more than half my life. It had been pruned to grow like a shrub so I replaced it with a few native shrubs (Viburnum trilobum and Sambucus canadensis)
The bittersweet vine I took out of my parent’s yard. I counted at least seventeen rings, so that’s been there more than half my life. It had been pruned to grow like a shrub so I replaced it with a few native shrubs (Viburnum trilobum and Sambucus canadensis)

What a swing in the weather - from sunny, spring-like conditions this weekend to nearly a foot of snow today. Variety is the spice of life,

Aubrey


Remember to let your mushrooms out in the snow, they love it.
Remember to let your mushrooms out in the snow, they love it.

References:

  1. Lee AH, Kang CM, Lee YM, Lee H, Yun CW, Kim GH, Kim JJ. Heterologous expression of a new manganese-dependent peroxidase gene from Peniophora incarnata KUC8836 and its ability to remove anthracene in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. J Biosci Bioeng. 2016 Dec;122(6):716-721. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiosc.2016.06.006. Epub 2016 Jun 25. PMID: 27353859.

  2. Lee H, Jang Y, Lee YM, Lee H, Kim GH, Kim JJ. Enhanced removal of PAHs by Peniophora incarnata and ascertainment of its novel ligninolytic enzyme genes. J Environ Manage. 2015 Dec 1;164:10-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.08.036. Epub 2015 Sep 3. PMID: 26342262.

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