Each year around Christmas the staff at QuanTEM works to raise money for a local charitable organization. This year’s recipient is the Angels Foster Family Network of OKC. Angels is a private foster child placing agency in Oklahoma County, rescuing children who have often been traumatized while living in emergency shelters or in a series of short term foster homes after being abused, neglected, or abandoned by their parents.
This year QuanTEM employees engaged in a multitude of activities, including; bake sales, card games, prize drawings and coin drops, in order to raise money. Some employees even went above and beyond by agreeing to dress-up in costume when benchmarks were reached. The money raised by employees will be matched by QuanTEM and donated to Angels as a Christmas gift.
Thank you to everyone who participated, especially these brave souls.
We raised $1305 this year. QuanTEM will match that total so the Angels Foster Family Network will be receiving a $2610 donation. Way to go team!
The living artwork is the creation of Stephanie Mounaud, an infectious disease researcher at the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Maryland.
For the last several Christmases, Mounaud has used the different strains of mold that she works with to create holiday-themed fungal art.
The snowman pictured here was made by combining four different fungi, including common strains such as Aspergillus niger and rarer ones such as Penicillium marneffei.
Getting the colors just right for her artwork was tricky and required growing the right fungi on the right medium. For example, “the color that you see in the snowman is made from the spores,” hardy reproductive forms of fungi used for dispersal, Mounaud explained.
To coax the fungi to create spores, Mounaud used a nutrient-poor growth medium. “When you give them a starved condition, the fungi really want to produce their spores because they feel they’re in an environment where they need to survive,” she said.
It was going to be someone’s Christmas tree. And now it was dead.
“Never get paid back for this tree,” he said with a shrug. “Eleven years of work — gone.”
The culprit: Phytophthora root rot, a water mold that, once in the soil, makes it unfit for production.
Pollard has been growing Fraser fir in these western North Carolina mountains for nearly 40 years. To him, it’s “the ultimate tree.”
But this persistent problem has him looking to a species from the birthplace of old Saint Nicholas himself for a possible alternative. And he’s not alone.
Growers in Oregon, the nation’s No. 1 Christmas tree producer, have been experimenting with the Turkish fir for more than 30 years. That species and the Nordmann fir, also native to Eurasia, have shown promising resistance to root rot.
“Phytophthora is a problem in most areas where true firs … are grown,” said Gary A. Chastagner, a plant pathologist and extension specialist at Washington State University. “It’s a national problem.”
Oregon leads the nation in Christmas tree production, with nearly 7 million harvested in 2007, the latest figures available from the National Christmas Tree Association. North Carolina was a distant second, with around 3.1 million trees cut.
One study estimated the potential losses to Oregon’s nursery and Christmas tree industries of up to $304 million a year if Phytophthora is not properly contained. Douglas and Noble fir are the dominant holiday tree species in the Pacific Northwest.
In North Carolina, the No. 2 producer, it costs farmers up to $6 million a year, said John Frampton, a Christmas tree geneticist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
To date, no fungicide has proven effective to control Phytophthora on Christmas tree plantations. So once it’s in the soil, that’s it.
Pollard, who grows about 130,000 trees on several western North Carolina farms, said Phytophthora set in after Hurricane Fran in 1996 and got worse following 2004’s Hurricane Ivan. He’s lost about a quarter of his trees over the past six seasons, and the state rated the mortality on some of his stands at up to 80 percent.
“They’ll be good for growing grass,” he said as he stood overlooking several barren hilltop fields recently.
Researchers at Washington State and several other universities are hoping to unlock the secrets to some species’ rot resistance. Read More