Mycology at the Bell Museum

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 - 5:15pm

by Aaron David

I’m happy to kick of the Myco Club Blog with a recap of our successful Bell Museum Saturday with a Scientist event “Misunderstood Molds, Fantastic Fungi, and Sensitive Lichens.” This was a collaborative effort with Dr. Daniel Stanton and me in the Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Department and Katie Speckman at the Bell Museum in February 2015. Our goal was to expose curious people of all ages to the diverse world of fungi with hands-on activities, presentations, and displays. Here are a few of the highlights:

In the entry way, we had a big display of fungal diversity. In addition to the specimen (special thanks to Todd Burnes and Brett Arenz for their help getting these samples!), we had some cultures of fungi that had grown out of things outside and inside the house like dust, snow, and even spices! Also on display was a first look at the fungal flashcards the Myco Club is making. These are intended to help beginners become familiar with basic fungi found around Minnesota, and will soon be freely available for download on the Myco Club website.

Aaron David and Jakob Riddle show off some of the specimen on display.
Aaron David and Jakob Riddle show off some of the specimen on display.

Around the corner, we had the Fungal Products display. Fungi are used in everything from cheese, to artificial flavors, to medicine.

Lotus Lofgren explains to visitors how fungi are used a variety of common products.Lotus Lofgren explains to visitors how fungi are used a variety of common products.

At the lichen and moss station, our resident expert Daniel Stanton explained the differences between lichens and mosses, and showed visitors how to make a lichen terrarium. Visitors got to build and take home their own.

Samples at the Lichen and moss station. Photo credit: Maria Fernanda Laguarda Mallo.

Samples at the Lichen and moss station. Photo credit: Maria Fernanda Laguarda Mallo.
Samples at the Lichen and moss station. Photo credit: Maria Fernanda Laguarda Mallo.

At the Decomposition Station, Jason showed off some of the polypore and other wood decay specimens we had on display. Decomposition is one of the most important roles fungi play in ecosystems, breaking down dead organic matter like plants or animals.

 

Jason Oliver lays down some knowledge on these young mycologists as they furiously take down notes.
Jason Oliver lays down some knowledge on these young mycologists as they furiously take down notes.

Finally, we gave a mini-lecture on Killer Fungi that covered everything from plant and insect pathogens, to deadly human fungi. For those who were there (and those that weren’t), here is the link to the David Attenborough clip on Cordyceps – the zombie ant killing fungus.

Thanks to everyone who attended and helped out to make this event a success!

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