Microworld: Fun with Fungi Happy Hour

science, cat, microbiology, microscopic, fungi

If you have an impromptu run-in with a fungus, a propensity for accuracy will definitely be on your side. Fungi are all over the place, ranging from friendly symbionts with plants and animals, to tasty snacks, to dangerous parasites.

So what are fungi? Well, fungi have eukaryotic cells, just like plants and animals. It might surprise you that fungi actually have more in common with animals than plants! Like animals their cells have an outer cell membrane and an inner cell wall. Their cell membranes are made up of proteins and lipids, as are animal cell membranes. Also like animals, fungi are heterotrophs, meaning they do not produce their own food. Instead they typically throw digestive enzymes into their environment and then absorb the dissolved food particles.

In fact, fungi are the principal decomposers in many ecosystems! A stereotype of fungi might be that they are gross and slimy, but they area actually great recyclers. So eco-conscious!

Another thing that defines fungi is the presence of chitin within their cell walls. Chitin is a biopolymer that helps create a rigid cell wall between cells, which help the fungi retain their shape. Fungi can push their way through multiple pounds of leaf litter as they grow, thanks in part to the strength of chitin.

Fungi can be quite large. Consider the largest known fungus – a giant honey fungus in Oregon that measures 2.4 miles (3.8 km) across!

Other fungi are microscopic, such as unicellular yeast. Yeasts can be pathogens, but they can also be fun and friendly, adding a nice fermented tang to your beers, sourdoughs, kombuchas, sauerkrauts, and kimchees.

Another common type of microscopic fungi is of course, everyone’s favorite, the mold! Molds are multicellular fungi, and like most fungi are made up of filaments called hyphae. Hyphae can form a tangled network called a mycelium to create a fungal body. Some hyphae have walls between the cells (septate hyphae), but others lack this separation and are called nonseptate or coenocytic hyphae.

Molds can cause illness in humans when ingested and respiratory distress when inhaled in large quantities. However, they can also sometimes be helpful! The antibiotic penicillin is derived from the fungus Penicillium.

Now that you know a little more about fungi, it’s time to get hyphae for Accuracy Happy Hour!

Session 1 – 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM on 5/20
Session 2 – 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM on 5/21
Session 3 – 10:00 PM to midnight on 5/21
**All times ET**

HQ will bestow typical Happy Hour bonuses for your work during each of those time frames, but there’s more than that to earn! Check your in-game notifications to see the full accuracy bonus breakdown. Please note: in addition to increasing the minimum cubes from 20 to 30 during last month’s Accuracy Happy Hour, we are also going to change what earns you the Accuracy Grandmaster badge at the closing ceremony. The Accuracy Grandmaster badge will now go exclusively to the top 3 players.

Swag (made possible by generous donations from Eyewirer @susi): Most accurate player completing at least 30 cubes wins their choice of face mask or notebook, plus a magnet! Second and third place will each also win a magnet.

Mentors: You are still allowed to mentor people during these time windows. Please just use your best judgment as to whether someone is asking you for basic newbie help vs. trying to have you boost their accuracy on cube after cube.

Scythes: Please avoid scything during these time windows. Even though accuracy for this will be retroactively calculated, we would prefer to go with accuracy based on players’ raw tracing. By the time this challenge is scored, don’t worry, admins will have corrected consensus as needed.