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Do 3 meals a day keep fungi away?
Date:10/15/2009

umber of successful species declined by 6 percent for every one degree centigrade increase. Most could not grow at mammalian temperatures. Those that did well in hotter conditions were often from warm-blooded sources.

Dr. Casadevall noted that the current study covered thousands of fungal strains and made use of a computerized database of the Utrecht collection. In the past, this type of research would have required retrieving this information manually, which Dr. Casadevall noted would have been a very time-consuming task.

"This was possible only because we could use bioinformatic tools to analyze the records in the culture collection," he said. "There is no way to do a study like this without such technology given the enormous numbers of samples and the labor involved."

The results of the study, he added, could help explain why mammals maintain a seemingly energy-wasteful lifestyle requiring a great deal of food. By contrast, reptiles need only eat once a day or even less often.

"The payoff, however, may be that mammals are much more resistant to soil and plant-borne fungal pathogens than are reptiles and other cold-blooded vertebrates," said Dr. Casadevall.

This stronger immunity to fungi could explain why mammals rose to dominance after the dinosaur extinction event 65 million years ago. Indeed, the fungal bloom that occurred then may be one reason for the extinction of dinosaurs, a possibility outlined in a 2004 Fungal Genetics and Biology paper from Dr. Casadevall.


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Contact: Deirdre Branley
sciencenews@einstein.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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