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Microcolonial fungi adapt to extreme conditions: fungi

Free-living ascomycetes growing in colonies can spread into the extremely hostile environments including deserts because they possess extracellular polymeric substances and other adaptations.

“Rock-inhabiting MCF [microcolonial fungi] endure sudden changes in the environment by rapidly adapting their metabolic activity, life style and survival structures to the new conditions. Ultrastructural peculiarities of these fungi suggest spore-like metabolism and protection (Fig. 6) although MCF do not propagate sexually (Gorbushina, 2003; Gorbushina et al., 2003). Relevant characteristics of poikilo-tolerant MCF include: (i) the capacity to survive long periods of suspended metabolism. In this way, they can remain as colonies made up of pseudo tissue-like microcolonies comprising 100–500 cells for several decades until conditions favourable to further growth return; (ii) the ability to re-organize internally by constantly replacing dying or dead cells with new buds (Gorbushina et al., 2003) and Fig. 6C; (iii) the ability to form filamentous hyphae that develop from clump-like colonies (Fig. 5E) to penetrate deep into rocks thus protecting themselves from environmental stresses. In this sense, the visible portion of melanized MCF is like the tip-of-the-iceberg, because the hyphae can rapidly penetrate several mm to cm into hard rocks in search of more protected environments and; (iv) the ability to create a multitude of varnish-like coatings, skins and shells that arise from the impregnation of the extracellular matrix and melanin layers with minerals (Dragovich, 1984; 1993; 1998; Gorbushina, 2003).” (Gorbushina 2007:1619-1620)
About the inspiring organism

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Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Adhesion methods, Anti-adhesion solutions, bioelectric biofilm control methods, biocides,

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Medicine, Water Purification, Biofilm Technology, Biofouling, Petroleum Industry, Plumbing Industry, Medical Tool Manufacturing, Bioelectric Technology, Bioremediation, Dairy Industry, Environmental Technology

Geomicrobiology Group
Anna Gorbushina
Institute of Chemistry and Biology of the Marine Environment (ICBM), Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg
Gorbushina, A. A. 2007. Life on the rocks. Environmental Microbiology. 9(7): 1613-1631.
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