Sunday, October 3, 2010

Resistant SuperFungus in Soil

  Everyone seems to have some degree of awareness about the current resistant bacterial strains of diseases and currently nicknamed "superbugs".  Well now convetional gardening practices are creating superfungus strains. 

 Now to most people this isn't really a big deal. Aspergillus is a genus that covers several hundred types of fungus, of which only a few dozen are pathogens to people. Some strains get used to ferment foods, some strains create the moldy spots on your bread and produce. It is one of the major fungi in compost heaps.

 While healthy adults and in general most healthy people's immune systems are able to handle the several hundred spores we inhale daily.. those with compromised immune systems can't. Although it is relatively rare, a big enough dose of spores can mess with a healthy person.

 This is the problem.. by dousing areas with fungicides the results are the same as the planet mass dosing with antibiotics.. resistances develop. While using fungicides is more widely used in some areas of Europe, it is as well done in the States (granted to a lesser degree).

 Aspergillus fumigatus is a strain in particular that has been scientifically proven to be resistant to several fungicides. Birds in particular are susceptible to developing respiratory infections and yes, this is one of the strains at work in the compost heap.

 I actually knew someone who was healthy and contacted this. They think his exposure was from when he was digging a new well for his hunting cabin in Wisconsin. The spores were in such a large quantity that they basically invaded his lungs and set up shop. He's fine the last I heard (he is one of my sister's ex-boyfriends) but it took a toll as he did have damage to his lungs.

 To me.. this is just another reason to garden organically. The last thing we need is another resistant strain to a highly prevalent potential pathogen.


  1. OH NOES a Fungus-amungus!!!

    I sometimes get these long white tendrils that I thought were worms but someone suggested a fungus. They will sometimes be poking out in the flower beds in the weeeeee AM and waving around. They are about as thin as a horse mane hair and all white.

    Is it a dangerous man-eating fungus?

  2. Yeah that would be fungus, one of many. Aspergillus is extremely common though and it doesn't generally bother us (it is found on decaying matter, hence the compost heap being a large producer.. as well as moldy foods in your fridge). Those however that just had transplants, cancer, aids, diabetes, babies.. you get the idea.. it can be fatal to them.

    Not all fungus is bad.. just a few. Several actually bind to the root system of various plants and enhance nutrient uptake (very much like nitrogen fixing bacteria being a beneficial buddy.)

  3. Phymatotrichopsis omnivorum... aka soil puke. This is one that popped up in one of the raised beds this year.. it looks like someone vomited in the bed.

    Annuals kinda not effected as they only are around for 1 season.. otherwise this crap is horrid on perennials. Only thing immune to it is monocots. Starving it out would be almost impossible. It doesn't compete well with other beneficial microbes.. but this junk can wander down 15 feet into the ground and soil drenches wouldn't work. I'd need a Noah's ark type quantity drench of compost teas.

    I may just take picture for you to enjoy lol. Soil puke.. my gardening shame.

  4. I declare as a NOTURF fan, GOLF and sports requiring lawn are the culprits or a wide segment in the population spreading fungicides to keep their precious TURF precious.

    Not to get into the phosphates, nitrogen,
    insecticides and other pesticides.

    Until next....