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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: RESEARCH, ACQUISITION, MANAGEMENT, AND DOCUMENTATION OF PLANT GENETIC RESOURCES

Location: Plant Germplasm Introduction and Testing

Title: Yippie Yi Yo Mycota Ki Yay! A mycologist’s fervently biased account of how the American western frontier was molded by spores and mycelium

Author
item DUGAN, FRANK

Submitted to: Fungi
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: July 27, 2011
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Citation: Dugan, F.M. 2012. Yippie Yi Yo Mycota Ki Yay! A mycologist’s fervently biased account of how the American western frontier was molded by spores and mycelium. Fungi. 5(1): 6-19. http://www.fungimag.com/.

Interpretive Summary: Presented in a humorous vein to attract amateur mycologists and mycology students, this article presents in text and old photographs examples of impacts of fungi on farms and forests of the American western frontier. Numerous historical accounts and period photographs and other old illustrations are utilized. Although written in an accessible style and laced with humor, the article is firmly anchored with documented facts. Fungi in the west sustained or destroyed vast landscapes, brought salvation or ruin to entire communities, deluded prophets and financiers, or provided sustenance and joy. Fungi made the Wild West, and are still shaping the West’s ecological, economic and cultural destiny.

Technical Abstract: Discussed are white pine blister rust (Cronartium ribicola), cereal rusts (Puccinia spp.), smuts (Tilletia spp.), fungi as agents of recycling in grasslands (e.g., Sporormiella and Podospora spp.), fungal symbionts of bark beetles (e.g., Ophiostoma spp.), impacts of clinical fungi (e.g., Valley Fever), yeast (Saccharomyces yeast in brewing and sourdough), postharvest decay of agricultural produce (e.g., Penicillium spp.), mushrooms as survival food and early instances of mushroom poisoning, and other aspects. Introduced are the concepts of alternate host (for rusts), host specificity (for smuts), plus entomopathogenic fungi (e.g., Entomophaga and summit disease; and pebrine). Fungal activities resulted in establishment of grain standards and bagging of grain for long distance transport. Explosive ignition of smut spore dust in harvesting combines and grain elevators was frequent, expensive and dangerous. These and other aspects are reviewed in accessible language.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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