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Mycology with Loose Spaghetti - Ep. 1

Hello everyone,

My name is Dr. Luz Beghetti, A.K.A. Loose Spaghetti. First of all I would like to thank Moxi & Loon for giving me the opportunity to once again be a team member with the band. I made a lot of mistakes as band manager during our tour in 2019, and I am sorry for the unnecessary friction I caused. Getting arrested during our stop in Astoria, OR was a headache for everyone involved. My deepest apologies go out to the family living at the residence where The Goonies was filmed... But I digress.

A lot has changed since then. It began with a moment of clarity I had in the police station. An officer was in the middle of describing how I was ripping apart furniture, foaming at the mouth, screaming "WHERE ARE THE PIRATE GEMS?!" when I really looked deep inside myself and questioned where I was heading. Life on the road was too much for me to handle. After my release, I decided to go back to school.

I was nearly finished earning my doctorate in Biophysics when I left my position to become the touring band manager for Moxi & Loon. My research lab was in the private sector, and much of our findings were of interest to the military's department of defense. For this reason I can't go into any specifics about our work, but I can tell you that I really know my way around a scanning electron microscope (SEM). Upon returning to school I changed course and decided to focus my skills into the growing field of applied mycology.

Since grabbing the attention of our species, fungi have made it abundantly clear that they play significant roles everywhere we look. Their contributions are found in the fields of ecology, medicine, nutrition, mental health, and cosmic exploration. They've become hugely popular in our culture over the last few years, but so much about their lives remains cryptic. Mycology is endlessly fascinating, so I'll be popping by Moxi & Loon Magazine periodically to share my current interests about our fungal friends. Today we are going to talk about the spitzenkörper.

Often when we think of mushrooms we picture the funky little things that pop up out of the ground, taking various shapes but often consisting of a cap and stem. In reality, these are fruit bodies (reproductive organs) and are small parts of the organism which lives in the soil. The main underground body is made of mycelium--a vast interconnected web of thread-like hyphae. Hyphae are so small and tightly woven together that one cubic inch of soil can contain up to eight miles of mycelium. Mycelium is incredibly robust, resilient, and communicates with the environment with uncanny intelligence. It sometimes grows rapidly, adding up to a half-mile of total length to the mycelial body in one day. It can also grow with incredible force, capable of lifting concrete paving stones or breaking through asphalt.

It as at the growing tips of these hyphae that we find the mysterious spitzenkörper. It is a cloud of activity responsible for navigating hyphae through space in search of nutrients, and it carries out an array of complex tasks simultaneously. The spitzenkörper takes in compounds from the external environment while disassembling and reconstructing the hyphal tip at lightning speed. It is a delicate task, for each tip also contains a staggering amount of hydrostatic pressure. It still remains a mystery as to how the spitzenkörper prevents the hyphae's contents from exploding from the thin apex as it is constantly being destroyed/created.

Peter McCoy poetically describes the spitzenkörper as "an ephemeral school of mycelial thought, a mysterious flock of fungal will." I've spent countless hours observing this phenomenon under SEM and am still awed by its speed and efficiency. Sometimes I look outside the window of my lab and think of the trillions of miles of spitzenkörpers flurrying beneath the surface, ripping through the soil in response to light, chemicals, and electrical signals. I picture the neurons in my brain clustered in their own webs of electrical thought...

As above, so below.

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