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Armillaria Ostoyae: The World's Largest Organism

Writer: Adar Özalkak


Have you ever wondered what the world's largest organism is? Is it the blue whale, the redwood tree, or maybe the elephant? Well, it may surprise you to learn that the largest living organism is the honey mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae). The honey mushroom (Armillaria ostoyae) is an organism that has fascinated scientists and nature enthusiasts alike for decades. It is the largest living organism on Earth, and it is also the oldest known living organism. But what makes it so remarkable?[Gözcelioğlu,2017]


To begin with, the honey mushroom is a parasitic fungus that grows on trees and other plants in the forest ecosystem. It has a network of underground threads, known as mycelia, which can spread out over great distances. These threads can grow and spread for years, and they are responsible for the mushroom's massive size. The honey mushroom covers an area of 965 hectares, which is approximately 9,650,000 square meters. To put it into perspective, this giant mushroom could cover 1,665 football fields or approximately 10 square kilometers of grass area. It's incredible to think about just how expansive this living organism is.[Duke,2021]



The discovery of this giant Armillaria ostoyae earned it the title of the world's largest known organism. It surpassed the previous titleholder, a 33-meter-long, 200-ton blue whale, and has held the title ever since. However, it's not just the largest organism; it's also the oldest living organism. It's estimated that the mushroom is 2,400 years old, but some experts believe it could be as old as 8,650 years.[Duke,2021]



The honey mushroom was discovered by a team of forestry scientists who set out to map the population of this pathogenic fungus in eastern Oregon. They matched samples of fungi in Petri dishes to see if they fused, a sign that they belonged to the same genetic individual, and used DNA fingerprinting to identify where a fungus ended up. The result was fascinating: the fungi matched, and they had discovered the world's largest creature.[Wagg,2012]


The honey mushroom's impressive size and age are not the only remarkable things about it. It is also known for its medicinal properties. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including cancer, inflammation, and digestive issues. Researchers are still studying the potential health benefits of this remarkable organism.[Duke,2021]


Apart from its size and medicinal benefits, the honey mushroom is also a reminder of the importance of biodiversity and the complexity of the natural world. It is a fascinating example of the incredible diversity of life on Earth, and it serves as a reminder that there is still so much to learn and discover. The honey mushroom is proof that even the most unexpected organisms can hold important insights into the mysteries of life on Earth.[Duke,2021]



In conclusion, the honey mushroom is a true marvel of the natural world. Its size, age, and medicinal properties make it an organism worth studying and admiring. It also serves a reminder of the importance of preserving biodiversity and the complexity of the natural world. The honey mushroom is a living example of the incredible diversity of life on Earth, and it is proof that there is still so much to learn and discover about the mysteries of our planet.



References

1.Dünya’nın Yaşayan en Büyük Canlı Organizması Hangisidir?: TÜBİTAK Bilim Genç. Bilim Genc. (n.d.). https://bilimgenc.tubitak.gov.tr/makale/dunyanin-yasayan-en-buyuk-canli-organizmasi-hangisidir#:~:text=Ne%20bir%20balina%20ne%20de,ifadeyle%209.650.000%20m2


2.Duke, C. (2021, November 22). The largest living thing on Earth is a 3.5-square-mile fungus. Discovery. https://www.discovery.com/nature/the-largest-living-thing-on-earth-is-a-3-5-square-mile-fungus 

3.Ugc. (2012, October 7). The world’s largest organism. Atlas Obscura. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/world-s-largest-organism-2 


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