A Bumper Crop Surprise :: N2W 220617

Inspired by KL Caley’s #WRITEPHOTO Challenge to write a

“Um, excuse me Mr. Ricardo, sir.  I need to talk with you. It’s kind’a urgent.”

“Certainly Jonas.  Folks, you can just follow the path to see the rest of the farm.  I need to talk with our head researcher and will catch up with you in a few minutes.”

“Can we step . . . ?”

“Jonas, whatever it is, we’ll make it work. We always do, but sure, let’s go back to the grove.

“Okay, that was the last group for today so no one should come strolling by. What has you worried this time?”

“We have a problem with the shimeji loom.”

“A problem? Jonas, the loom organism has far exceeded our hopes. The yields in the shimeji beds are fabulous.”

“Yes, yes. That’s not the problem, um, sir; you know that the loom is a GMO that we created. It, um, greatly increases the growth of the shimeji hyphae, the um roots . . .”

“Jonas. Please relax. We’re just talking through a problem, and I like to think that I’m a fairly well-informed investor. I know what the hyphae are and that they grow to form a mesh, a mass called the mycelium. I know that we taught the loom organism to nourish and accelerate growth by weaving the hyphae into a stronger mycelium to increase the success of each shimeji cluster. With a drop of our loom, successful germination of a single shimeji spore drastically improves the fungus growth.  Do I have this correct?”

mushroom parts

Image from GroCycle article: A Guide to All the Parts of a Mushroom.

“Yes, sir, ye-yes. There is no problem with the success of the loom. The fruit itself is great. All who have tasted it can’t tell the difference and so, there is no reason to expect anything but a great market for them – unless they test the whole plant where it grew.”

“The plant itself? Why would anyone do that?”

“Yesterday, I got three calls from different neighbors downstream from us. Each reported the same troubling phenomenon, so I visited each to investigate. You know the shimeji is not easily germinated and even the most experienced growers have limited success.”

“And that is why our loom organism is going to make us wealthy, yes.”

“No.  No, sir.  It’s not. The loom organism is not designed to self-propagate. It is supposed to germinate a single shimeji fungus and then burn itself out – like a fertilizer would. Each of those neighbors reported multiple unexpected new patches of shimeji in their yards. Sir, the shimeji loom is propagating itself.

“I collected samples of from each yard and got the spores under a microscope and they are definitely not normal shimeji spores.  They’re larger, more complex.  The hyphae, are tinted, just like ours.”

“We use a plastic sheet around our plants to prevent stray germinations. For us, it’s a standard step for all our research plants, but the spores from our plants made their way down the hillside to our neighbor’s farms and I now expect that everyone down wind from us are going to have tens, maybe hundreds of successful germinations.”

“How can this be possible Jonas? What happened to the spores?’

“It’s the loom organism. It found a way to clone itself up the fungus stems to the spores and thus is propagating itself along with the shimeji plant. The second generation is going to spread logarithmically across our neighbor’s farms.  By the fifth and sixth generations, the whole valley is going to be full of shimeji mushrooms.”

mushrooms by KL Caley

Photo Credit: KL Caley

“Jonas. . . Let me think. . . No, this cannot be happening. Taste notwithstanding, each fruit will now test positive for being a GMO and will be banned from most countries. Our market for the fruit is gone.”

“It’s worse sir.  It’s going to take a widespread use of some kind of fungicide to kill off the loom. By the time we get this stopped, we would have spent much more than your investment. I fear we’ll also be broke.”


GW bio card 4

17 thoughts on “A Bumper Crop Surprise :: N2W 220617

  1. I love finding mushrooms growing. I don’t know what it is about them, but I will stop and take pictures. My stories about mushrooms, as I am sure you can guess, typically involve fairies or other magical creatures. Fun piece, Gary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mushrooms are just so weird and not well understood (I knew very little of what I used in my story until I had to deal with KL’s prompt) but completely understand using the unknown to play with magic and fairies.
      I just like trying to tackle and write about mild science-y things.
      Between the two of us, we could own the market for stories. . .

      Like

    1. Thanks Maria.
      I think that Sweden is one of the countries that has outlawed the production and sale of GMO food. Some of the things that industry has come up with is attractive, but I’ve come to believe that in general, this has not proved to be helpful to the final consumer.
      So I decided to poke at it with this story.
      Thanks for giving it a read.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha – hope would have to happen in chapter 2 or 3 after this shrum picks ups some speed and takes over the EU.
      Must proceed with caution. SciFi can easily get as out of control as a GMO mushroom. . .

      Like

  2. If you’re interested in the discovery of mycelium networks and their function, read Finding the Mother Tree, which is the biography of a ‘slightly odd’ Canadian woman who goes against the loggers and eventually discovers pure gold (but not that sort). I reviewed it last year, probably in early June. 🙂

    Like

    1. Hi Jemima,
      I am sorta interested in almost anything in nature and science. I never had the grades to turn my interest into a career, but I do love a good hard scifi story.

      Like

    1. I think all the GMO folks mean well.
      I also think that our abilities have grown past our wisdom while not growing enough to anticipate and prevent surprises like my story depicts.

      Like

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