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World's Biggest Fungus Discovered on Chinese Tree

The most massive fruiting body of any fungus yet discovered has been found on the underside of a tree in China. The fruiting body is similar to a mushroom in other types of fungi. The record breaking specimen is a bracket fungus that is 10m long, 80cm wide and weighs half a ton. The previous record belonged to a fungus growing on a tree in Kew Gardens in the UK.

The Chinese fungus is thought to have been growing for at least 20 years. The specimen was discovered by a team of researchers from the Herbarium of Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Led by professor Yu-Cheng Dai, the researchers were in the field studying wood-decaying fungi when they happened upon the record breaking fungi.

Dai told BBC news:

“We were not specifically looking for this fungus; we did not know the fungus can grow so huge. We were surprised when we found it, and we did not recognize it in the forest because it is too large.”

The fungus, Fomitiporia ellipsoidea, is a type of fungi called a perennial polypore (also known as bracket fungus). Because it is a perennial, it can live for several years, which obviously helped contribute to it growing to its record breaking size. Where it was found, on the underside of a decaying tree, gave it a tremendous amount of rotting wood to feed on, which also contributed to its growth.

The researchers collected several samples of the specimen which they then analyzed back at their laboratory. They estimate that there are some 450 million spores in the fungi. The research was described in a paper in the journal Fungal Biology.

(via BBC News)

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