Some Questions on Ascomycota

( questions are from my MycoAlbum CD)

NOTA BENE: The questions below assume a general  knowledge of the fungi.  You are not required to regurgitate the facts but to use the facts that you know, plus other sources at your disposal (e.g. your brain), to give reasonable answers to the questions. This will encourage you to think of all of this in terms of understanding the natural history of fungi and their solutions to the biological problem that they must address to survive and succeed in a wide diversity of habitats.

1. Design a simple lab experiment to estimate the distance in cm that Sordaria shoots its spores. Would shooting the ascospores five times as far be a big step forward for spore dispersal?  Are there any fungi that you know that shoot their spore or spore packages a significant distance (e.g. 50cm , 100cm, 500cm)

2. The ascospores of Sordaria are black and have a mucous coating.  Paying attention to the biology of Sordaria, suggest the advantages of these two characteristics to the success of the fungus. 

3. In Eurotium the cleistothecium has a peridium but no hülle cells. The closely related Emericella, on the other hand, has a crust of hülle cells around the peridium. Give a reasonable explanation for this!  Hulle cells are pretty big and note the remarkable thickness of the walls .  How are they formed and what is their purpose?  Give a hypothetical explanation with educated guesses.

4. Hundreds of people in Eurasia have died after consuming meals containing Gyromitra esculenta. Some people eat and enjoy Gyromitra esculenta regularly. Other people eat it for the first time and die. A few people eat it for years and then die after a 'false morel' banquet. They say that some times it is the cook who dies! They also say that the NA Gyromitra doesn't contain the toxin. Could you give a detailed explanation that would rationalize all this and give you the confidence to eat Gyromitra esculenta on a camping trip in British Columbia.? 

5. Eurotium and Emericella have sophisticated conidial (anamorphic) states and Sordaria has no conidial state. Rationalize this situation.

6. The key to success in most Ascomycota is having spores for persistence and dispersal with genetic variation playing a minor role in the short term. Discuss the validity of this statement.

7. In numbers of species, the Ascomycota is the largest Division of the fungi. There are good reasons for their success. Discuss.

8. Your elderly parents parents, who are retiring to live in northeastern NA, want to plant a nice maple in the front garden to set off their small bungalow. They ask you (who goes to college and thus knows everything) what species would be best to plant. What do you tell them ?   Take your pick of Manitoba Maple, Norway Maple, Silver Maple, Sugar Maple.

9. Why are conifers called Gymnosperms? Take a guess using your knowledge of Gymnoascus.

10. Why did the Dutch Elm Disease (DED) have such devastating effects on the North American Elm when it only caused relatively minor damage to European elms as it passed through Europe from Asia on its way to North America. Explain what happened when the fungus returned from North America to Europe? Where did it come from in the first place and is it important to know this? What happens when it returns to its place of origin (locus natalis)?  Where is its locus natalis.   Is it important for plant pathologists to knowe the local natalis of fungi that cause plant disease?