Fungus among us

Date:14 August 2014 Tags:, , , , ,

A variety of organisms lives and breathes alongside and within us. The same is true for other animals, including ants.

Postdoctoral researcher James S Waters photographed this microscopic view of an unidentified species of Rhizopus fungus growing on debris within a lab-reared colony of Aphaenogaster rudis seed-harvesting ants.

The gossamer network of strands making up the fungal mycelium transports nutrients between spores (the brown spheres here), which helps them to reproduce. Those spores are tiny – 64 000 times smaller than the typical ant in whose colony they share a home.

This image was awarded 2nd place in Princeton University’s 2014 Art of Science competition. Now in its seventh year, the Art of Science competition – open to the entire Princeton community – explores the interplay between science and art and consists of images produced during the course of scientific inquiry that have aesthetic merit.

Image credit: James S Waters | Princeton University Art of Science