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Mushroom Roundup

June 17, 2011

New research on fungi could help fight disease.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Fungus fertilizers. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A kind of fungus that lives in partnership with plant roots could increase crop yields and reduce the need for fertilizer by fifty percent. This according to research presented at the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. The scientists grew the fungus in vats and suspended it in a gel that could be applied to crops. They say the fungus could be especially useful for tropical soils that are low in nutrients, and where fertilizer is expensive.

In other fungus news, scientists in Australia report in the journal PLoS ONE that a compound derived from the turkey tail mushroom is effective at stopping the growth of prostate tumors in mice. The compound targets the cancer stem cells, that initiate tumors and allow them to grow. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.