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Foxy Fungi-Science News 6/6



Science marches on...
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from: Science News, vol. 153, June 6,1998

Foxy Fungi Tarnish Old Books
Rust-colored splotches often mar the pages of books from the 19th
century and earlier. In the late 1970s, electron microscope pictures of
these splotches revealed the presence of fungi. The coloring phenomenon,
called foxing, apparently stems from the metabolic by-products of such
paper-digecting organisms.
Now, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis has helped identify some
of the fungi causing these reddish blots. Raymond F. Sullivan of Rutgers
University in New Brunswick, NJ and his collegues used PCR to look for
fungal DNA in 10 books, each more than a century old and spoiled by
foxing. In a few foxed areas, but not in unmarked pages of the same
books, the researchers detected DNA fragments that they identified as
belonging to members of the fungal genus Aspergillus.


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