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Giant-sized mushroom found in southern Oregon

RUCH, Ore. - Larry Belau's humongous morel mushroom has tongues wagging in the Jackson County hamlet of Ruch.

Standing 12 inches tall, measuring 14 inches around and weighing nearly a pound, it sits in the ice cream case at Aunty Pasta's restaurant.

Mushroom hunters and ordinary folks have been coming in for a look.

Belau found it last weekend.

Catherine Johnson owns the restaurant. She says some people take pictures of it and others just "oogle it."

Wildflowers were on Belau's mind when he headed into the woods. The 56-year-old said finding the mushroom was a fluke.

Mushroom experts like Gordon Larum say morels of that scale are rare, but not unheard of.

Larum says they would probably be more common if people didn't harvest them so ferociously.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Mushroom harvesters strike

CRESCENT JUNCTION, Ore. -- Matsutake mushrooms were a fast fortune once for the many Southeast Asian immigrants who prowled the pine forests of the Oregon Cascades for the beige-white fungi.  In the early 1990's the price went crazy, at times topping $500 a pound for sale fresh to a voracious market in Japan.

That didn't last, but in early September, when the pickers moved into the camps for the two-month season, the price was still $28 a pound for top grade matsutakes.

Then the bottom dropped out -- to $18 a pound, to $8, to $4, then to $3.

Last Sunday, the pickers made an unprecedented move: They sold their mushrooms at the low price and went on strike, crusading for $15 a pound for top grade matsutakes.

Instead it got worse. By Thursday night, the price was $2 a pound.

Monster mushroom found in field

A giant mushroom measuring four times the size of a football has been found by a couple in Aberdeenshire.

The unusual find, discovered growing in a field, measures 3ft long and weighs about 9kg.

Scientists have identified the mushroom as a gigantic puff-ball (Calvatia Gigantea), a variety of the fungi rarely found in Scotland.

Ian Wakley, who found the mushroom, said he wanted to eat it but his wife Judith would not let him.

He said: "At first I thought it was a giant football.

"I wanted to take it home, fry it in butter and eat it, but my wife thought differently.

"It is huge - at least three or four times the size of a football."

Experiment Station Researchers to Explore Genome of Disease-Fighting Fungus

A team of Texas Agricultural Experiment Station scientists will soon begin genome sequencing a disease-fighting fungus used to protect crops, which has implications for both agriculture and the pharmaceutical industry.

The fungus, Trichoderma virens, is used to protect field crops from various plant diseases. Researchers say the genome sequencing work may uncover chemical compounds and beneficial genes useful in producing new human and animal antibiotics..........

The sequencing project is a collaborative effort with the Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute. Experiment Station plant pathologists are Drs. Charles M. Kenerley, Daniel J. Ebbole, Heather H. Wilkinson and Michael Thon. Also working on the project is Dr. Alfredo Herrera-Estrella, from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Mexico.

"There's both pharmaceutical and agricultural implications," said Kenerley, who is the lead researcher on the project. "We're going to get a view of all of the genes that might be responsible for producing antibiotics and potentially discover novel antibiotics used in therapy for humans or animals.

"We know some of the genes responsible for known antibiotics, however, there are additional genes in Trichoderma responsible for producing uncharacterized compounds that might be novel antibiotics."

That fungus among us is good for more than just eating

A visionary biologist says mushrooms are potent antiviral and antibacterial agents, as well as key boosters to the human immune system. They also might end up saving the earth. To lots of folks, a middle-aged man who says mushrooms can save the world falls into the category of turbo-freak. But to some environmentalists, scientists and major investors, Paul Stamets is the trippiest of profitable kings.

"Mushrooms restore health both on the personal and ecological level," says Stamets, a mycologist and owner of Fungi Perfecti, a family-owned mushroom business in Shelton, Wash. "Mushrooms can heal people and the planet."

Stamets, a former logger turned scanning electron microscopist, is bent on showing that fungal mycelium and mushrooms (the actual mushroom is the fruit of the mycelium) could be the cornerstone to several earth-friendly, multibillion dollar industries. To him, there's no end to what spores can do.

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