Maliau bracket fungi project (proposal)

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Reproductive ecology and circadian rhythms of Ganoderma sp. bracket fungi

Rachel Hawkins and Cameron Kirk-Giannini



Ganoderma sp. is a bracket fungus that grows on decaying wood and debris. This fungus has not been greatly studied, and little is known about its reproductive cycle or natural history. Bracket fungi are widespread throughout many ecosystems and are a good example of tropical saprophytes, which play a central role in carbon cycling. This experiment, which focuses on previously unobserved spore dispersal in bracket fungi, will hopefully shed new light on the methods of reproduction in tropical fungi.


What environmental factors (if any) affect the temporal distribution of the rate of spore dispersal?


We hyposthesize that the rate of spore dispersal is nonuniform and varies in accordance with circadian rhythm. Additionally, we hypothesize that there will be a positive correlation between temperature and rate of seed dispersal, humidity and rate of seed dispersal, and wind speed and rate of seed dispersal.


We will observe the fungi and collect the spores every two hours during the day (0600 to 1800) for two days. A petri dish with clean, clear tape in the bottom will be held close underneath (approximately 2cm away) each bracket fungus for a duration of 4 minutes. We will also record the humidity, temperature, wind speed, light conditions, and any other pertinent surrounding conditions at the same position underneath the fungus. We will measure the spore dispersal and conditions of at least 3 fungi (that have been observed to be emitting spores) of the same morphology on the same log.

Each sample of spores on the tape will be transferred to a microscope slide with the clear tape intact. After transferring tape to the slides, we will wash the slides to remove excess spores than may have been accidentally smudged onto the slide. Spores will be observed under a objective microscope, and we will select the center as a 2mm x 2mm area in which to count the spores. We will record the number of spores counted and use the statistics program R to analyze them.

Importance of Results and Discussion

If we find a pattern in the rate of spore dispersal, this new discovery will shed light on the reproductive ecology of tropical saprophytes in the Maliau Basin Conservation Area of Sabah, Malaysia. Further investigation into this area may reveal whether or not the fungi depend on the same factors to trigger the initial release of spores.

If there is no significant pattern found to accompany the rate of spore dispersal, further investigation may reveal which factors (if any) affect the dispersal of spores.