Dr. Pierre Mariotte
Toward sustainable agroecosystems

Dr. Pierre Mariotte

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Cleaning the oceans from plastic: a whale's request!

Posted on August 13, 2015 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (0)

An incredible story of this whale in Sydney Harbour, repeatedly getting boaters' attention until they remove a life-threatening plastic bag from its face. The plastic ban is being debated in Australian Parlament *today* and I believe that this video is a direct message from whales asking us to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans... Watch the video: au.news.yahoo.com/a/29245783


Each year, 8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean. This plastic pollution considerably impacts marine ecosystems and kills millions of animals every year. But it affects also humans; the costs associated to beaches' cleaning are excessive and toxic chemicals released by plastics and accumulating in the food chains are a real threat for human health. 


However cleaning the entire oceans is not impossible as proved by The Ocean Cleanup initiative. Founded by 21 years old Boyan Slat, this initiative aims a cleaning half of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years' time. I encourage everyone to support this amazing idea, explained in the following videos!


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How fungi can save the Earth?

Posted on August 4, 2015 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (0)

For those who have not seen this Ted talk, I recommend you to watch it now. Paul Stamets is an American mycologist who received multiple awards for his ideas and research on mushrooms. In this Ted Talk, Paul gives an overview of the importance of fungi and proposes 6 ways mushrooms can save the world, by cleaning pollutated areas, making insecticides, treating viruses and more. This is a very inspiring talk, which gives hope to make changes in the world. This also highlights the fact that mutlipe tools are already available to move towards a more eco-friendly society, but remains unused or not sufficiently used.


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When I lose faith, I watch that!

Posted on April 21, 2015 at 10:30 PM Comments comments (0)

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Some fungi make zombies

Posted on March 30, 2015 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

 

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(Presented by Cat Adams / BBC Campus)

While some fungi produce their own wind, other fungi produce the stuff of nightmares.


In tropical forests around the world, species of the fungal genus Ophiocordyceps infect carpenter ants, landing on the ant and then burrowing into its brain.


But this is no simple brain-siege. In Thailand, for example, Ophiocordyceps unilateralis first causes the ant to walk erratically, eventually plummeting from its normal home in the canopy to the forest floor below. The fungus then directs the ant to traverse up trees a precise number of centimetres, just less than a metre above the ground, where the temperature and humidity are ideal for fungi to thrive.


The fungus can control not only the height the ant travels to, but also the direction the ant faces, which is usually north-northwest. An uninfected ant would normally not bite a leaf, but infected ants do, clamping down on the underside of a leaf, almost always in the very middle of the leaf, where it is strongest. Like something from an science fiction story, the zombie ant bites down at precisely solar noon.


The ant then dies in this unusual position, stiff with postmortem lockjaw due to muscle atrophy from the fungi rapidly growing in its head. For up to two weeks, the ant corpse remains locked to the leaf while the fungus reproduces, eventually raining spores on unsuspecting healthy ants walking below, carrying food to their nests in the canopy.


And the zombification cycle repeats.


The zombie ant fungus Ophiocordyceps has perfected zombification to a science that has inspired both movies and video games, and was recently the topic of a science crowdfunding campaign to determine which genes are important for the fungus to control its host.


Everybody loves a good zombie story, perhaps the zombie-makers most of all.

 


Plants and the fungal web

Posted on March 24, 2015 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Plant-soil interactions are an incredibly interesting topic, which surprises and amazes me every day. Here are an example from the BBC, with plants interacting with the very dense and complex fungal web:

"Plants talk to each other using an internet of fungus"


Photo: bbc.com