Ep. 134: Life in Amber - 50-Million-Year-Old Cordyceps & Other Fossilized Fungi (feat. George Poinar Jr. PhD)

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Today on Mushroom Hour we are joined by the distinguished and prolific George Poinar, Jr. PhD. George received his Ph.D. in biology from Cornell University and spent most of his career in the Department of Entomology at the University of California at Berkeley before moving to Oregon State University, where he is a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology. His interest in the tropics, along with a passion for paleontology, culminated in the book The Amber Forest, co-authored with his wife, Roberta, and published by Princeton University Press. He is also the author of other books, including Life in Amber. In addition, he is a founder of The Amber Institute. He is a pioneer when it comes to studying associations between invertebrates and other organisms in amber. One of his projects was recently all over the news as he discovered a new genus and species of fungal entomoparasite growing out of a fossilized ant – the older mushroom growing from an ant that has ever been found!
TOPICS COVERED:

  • Young Naturalist Inspired by Walden and Thoreau
  • Entering Entomology
  • Research Tours through Southeast Asia
  • Insect Vectors of Disease-Carrying Parasites in Africa
  • Insect Diseases in Russia
  • Pivoting to Vertebrate Parasites in France, Germany & Holland
  • Ancient History of Insect Pathogens and Their Parasites
  • The Basics of Amber Preservation
  • Preparing and Cutting Amber for Examination
  • Determining the Age of Specimens in Amber
  • Phylogeny and Ancestry in Family Cordycipitaceae
  • Extracting Genetic Information from Amber Specimens
  • Meeting Michael Creighton and Jurassic Park Inspirations
  • Evolutionary Insights from Ancient to Modern Fungi

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