Drayton, Ledingham, and Ames Experiment With Fungi at New Biological Building-Laboratory Well-Equipped For Research
Among the many interesting experiments being carried on at the new Biological Laboratory, which was completed last year and is numbered among the outstanding institutions of its kind in the country, are two tests which using various forms of fungi as mediums, are of great general, as well as technical and scientific interest. One experiment, which deals with the sexual reproduction of fungi, is being conducted by Dr. F. L. Drayton, a National Research Fellow and L. H. Ames 3G. Dr. G. A. Ledingham, research assistant at the Laboratories, is in charge of the second test, and is investigating the nuclear division of certain species of fungi.
The Harvard Laboratories are rapidly becoming a center for men who are doing productive research. Because of their outstanding equipment, arrangement, facilities, and libraries, the Laboratories are attracting scores of biologists from all parts of the world who are interested in research. At present the research staff includes eight graduate students, who are working for their decorate, three men who have already received their Ph.D.'s, two National Research Follows, and one research assistant. Dr. Ledingham and Dr. Drayton are both Canadians; the former comes to Harvard this year from the University of Toronto, and the latter from Cornell University, where he received his doctorate. Ames came to the Laboratories three years ago from the Ohio Agricultural Experimental Station.
Dr. Drayton and Ames have discovered several new and important facts, about certain types of fungi in their experiment. Nothing has been known until very recently about the sexual reproduction of fungi. Through their experiments these men have discovered that in the types of fungi they studied a single spore gives rise to a fungus plant, which produces both types of fungi they studied a single spore gives rise to fungus plant, which produces both types of reproductive organs. It is therefore hermaphroditic. But, the interesting point is that the fungus is both self-sterile and cross-fertile a condition which is common in flowering plants of a much more higher species. This proves that sex in the simple lower organisms is much more complex than was previously thought. Until about thirty years ago, no one had ever suspected that there was any sexuality in fungi.
An obscure lower group of fungi is the medium for Dr. Ledingham's experiment. This fungus attacks the roots of wheat plants and causes considerable damage. From a scientific point of view, they have extraordinary methods of nuclear division, that are different from the usual means.
This group is a sort of connecting link between two other species of fungi, which were heretofore believed to be unrelated.