Fungi have been known to play miraculous roles in science, first in the discovery of antibiotics and now, maybe in finding a proper cure against cancers. A giant fungus, the mammoth mushroom, an Armillaria gallica specimen was found in a forest on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, which has grown from 220,000 pounds (covering roughly 15 hectares) to 850,000 pounds (covering 70 hectares) in about 25 years. The secret behind the cure to cancer might be the same as the phenomenal growth of this 2,500 years old specimen.
Scientists compared this fungus with a reference genome to reveal the secret of its long-term survival. The remarkable results revealed the mutation rate to be so low that the organism was not affected even by the frequently occurring mutations. The protection mechanism of fungus from mutations must be known in order to counter cancer cell growth.
Researchers are looking into the involved mechanism, yet they believe that the mutations are localized to areas in fungus where they do not cause much damage. The stability of the working DNA mechanisms inside this miraculous mushroom is compared to the cancer cells, which are highly unstable. Armillaria gallica is a very persistent organism with few mutations, while cancer is prone to genomic changes due to a high mutation rate.
Armillaria gallica produces a large number of mushrooms beneath the surface than above the ground. A large network of underground tendrils called mycelium comprises much of the totality of the mushroom, branching out in search for new food sources and growing to giant sizes. Researchers are curious to find cancer treatment through these fungi.