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About Gary Novak, Mushroom Scientist

I grew up in a small town in South Dakota. My dad was an auto mechanic. Nearby, my grandparents had a farm, so I spent summers doing farm work. In high school, I studied vocational agriculture and then started college in agriculture before switching majors to microbiology. I have a masters degree but not a Ph.D. degree.

My graduate research was on the physiology of an unusual yeast, Nadsonia fulvescens. The results explained the basic physiology of mushrooms. So I moved onto the vacated farm in South Dakota where my grandparents used to live and did mushroom research.

Both the yeast that I studied (Nadsonia fulvescens) and the mushroom (the morel) are examples of extreme evolution. My work therefore moved in the direction of evolution biology.

N. fulvescensThe yeast was very mysterious, as it formed a spore outside the vegetative cell, and cell material migrated into the spore leaving an empty shell for the rest. Yeast scientists knew something was triggering sporulation by yeasts, but they couldn't determine what it was. A. F. Croes, in the Netherlands, looked at the physiology and found indications that a peak in energy metabolism was triggering sporulation. I found additional evidence in nitrogen metabolism. Depletion of nitrogen causes a build-up of ATP, because it can't be used for synthesis without nitrogen, and the result promotes sporulation.

It is now apparent that an energy peak is the basic trigger mechanism for spore formation used by all fungi and yeasts, and it explains how mushrooms form. Mushrooms show the need for an energy peak to promote formation of the above-ground structure. An energy peak is a method of determining that nutrients and cell machinery are adequate for completing the process. This physiology is visible in the composting method of growing mushrooms. After mycelium gets thick, a layer of peat moss is put on top, which is called a casing. When mycelium gets to the surface of the casing, a mushroom forms. The difference between surface and lower growth is oxygen availability. Oxygen produces ATP through respiration.

But a second mechanism is also required for mushroom formation, and it too is found in the yeast, Nadsonia fulvescens. It is the production of spores without nutrients available, called endotrophism. Endo means "within the cells," and trophism means nutrition. It is nutrition from within.

This yeast stores up energy and cell material and then transfers that material into an adjacent chamber where the spore forms. Sporulation is inhibited by a repressor substance, acetate, which is a product of metabolism. These strange characteristics result from adaptation to growing on tree sap. Most yeasts grow well on tree sap, but they can't adapt to it, because it is transitory. Nadsonia adapted by forming a spore when rain washes the tree exudate away. It maximizes growth by not allowing spores to form while nutrients are available. Forming the spore from previously stored-up material results in a shrinkage of cell mass. Since yeasts have hard cell walls, the material must move into a smaller chamber to accommodate the reduction in size. Only Nadsonia shows the migration of cell material, which indicates that it is the only yeast which forms a spore when nutrients are not available and therefore the only yeast adapted to growing on tree sap.

Mushrooms which grow in the ground (but not wood growing mushrooms) are usually endotrophic. They build up a mass of mycelium for several months and then channel the cell material into a mushroom in one or two days. The high speed process of forming a mushroom is necessary to prevent drying of tissue or damage before spores are released. Modern mushrooms including the morel do not tolerate drying, so they have to form spores rapidly. Two ancient mushrooms, the puffball and the bolete, are resistant to drying, and they form quite slowly.

morelWhen I began studying the morel mushroom, it was extremely mysterious, as it produced spores within the tissue (ascospores), as yeasts do. As time went on, I found the physiology of the morel to be exactly that of a yeast, which could only result from evolution from a yeast. The morel was excreting acid to kill bacteria and feed on them. The acid tends to accumulate on the mycelium and kill it. But yeasts will tolerate more acid than bacteria, so the morel became dependent upon excreting acid, even while too much will kill the mycelium.

The morel evolved from a yeast so recently that it does not have good control over morphology and has not yet evolved detection of gravity for vertical growth, as almost everything which emerges from the soil has. It also self-destructs as it dies off, as all bacteria and yeasts do, but which mushrooms never do. The process is called autolysis. It allows nutrients to be recycled by breaking large molecules into subunits for re-use as nutrients.

Notice these extreme characteristics of the morel mushroom which could only result from recent evolution from a yeast. Morel mushroom scientists at the universities claim the morel evolved 129 million years ago. They ridicule my work with authority in place of real science. This state of science is pervasive and required serious criticism of corruption in science. There isn't a counter-argument to these points. Corrupt authority is an isolation barrier around reality, not an alternative reality.

In 1983, I found that energy was misdefined in physics. After arguing with physicists and getting nowhere, I developed a mathematical proof of the error, which of course got nowhere also. The mathematical proof is quite rudimentary, as any high school kid who has studied physics and calculus could verify the proof. Yet physicists will not touch the subject, as such a degree of criticism is not allowed in physics.

I got into electronics designing numerous temperature controlling and measuring devices. In constructing an audio amplifier, I found that the usual design had an extremely problematic output due to an inadvertent voltage gain of about 50,000. So I designed a method of driving speakers without voltage gain, which greatly improved audio amplifiers. Of course, no one but a few hobbyists were interested.

Capacitance meters were extremely expensive and imprecise during the eighties, so I found a better way to measure capacitance. The usual way was too slow for measuring small capacitors. Meters measure the time interval required for voltage to rise, which means two measurements. A much faster way is to simply measure the current required to produce the voltage rise. Being much faster, the process can be completed during the short time interval that small capacitors do what they do. This method allows almost a millionth as much capacitance to be measured as the previous method. It probably helped engineers develop touch screen displays based on capacitance, as I was getting email from engineering students at the time.

By 1997, I had a large amount of scientific information accumulated and no better place for it than the internet. About then, global warming became a social issue, so I have been developing that subject explaining the science in terms the public can understand.

I'm a pre-1980 type liberal. At that time, liberals were promoting equal opportunity, which means creating infrastructure and solving problems for the lower classes. When the lower classes have money to spend, economies thrive. The IMF does the opposite—putting the lower classes out of work and bankrupting economies.

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