The first Fungi Olympic Congress has been successfully concluded! Wait, what is that?
The first Fungi Olympic Congress has been successfully concluded! Wait, what is that?
May they get out of the circle of fire.

at the end of April this year, a new international sporting event (the official part of the competition) has just come to an end. This is the first fungal Olympic Congress (Fungus Olympics), a total of 29 teams participated in the competition, launched a (not very) fierce competition.

(screenshot of Fungus Olympics official website)

what the heck is fungal Olympique? When I saw this phrase, I was as at a loss as everyone else. Can fungi still become sportsmen? What on earth is this competition?

so I read the introduction article written by the contestant Bryan Coad, visited Fungus Olympics's official website and Twitter account, and found a podcast program about the competition (basically, that's all _ (: contest "∠) _). After getting to know it, I feel that although this activity has not gone viral yet (Twitter followers: 116... ), but it's really interesting, so let's introduce it to you.

what is fungus compared to

as the name says, it is not people who really take part in this competition, but fungi cultivated in the laboratory. So what kind of sports can fungi do? The answer is: walk the maze.

ordinary culture medium is flat, but those who sign up for the fungal Olympic competition will receive a special "fungal maze"-microfluidic devices with all kinds of narrow and rugged pipes. Contestants can choose their favorite fungus species to participate in the competition, they have to cultivate fungi on these devices and let the growing fungi pass through the narrow maze barrier.

(the track received by Bryan Coad, a contestant from the University of Adelaide)

even people who find it troublesome to go out can easily take part in the race: you don't have to leave for the track, the track will come to you on its own initiative. Specifically, the team that confirms the entry will receive a "fungal maze" sent by the organizers. When it comes to the official competition, they will also send equipment to record the progress of the game: this is a small portable microscope that can take delayed images at a fixed frequency of 10 minutes a frame, and automatically upload the results to the cloud account, so that the organizers can understand the performance of each team of fungi. The team can hold the microscope for five days and make several attempts, but the microscope must be returned when the time is up.

(fungal hyphae grow in the maze. Bryan Coad)

how to win

after all the teams have finished the competition, the organizers will judge the results based on the video. The current plan is to announce the results at the meeting of the American Fungi Society (MSA) in August. So what kind of win is it? According to Daniel Irimia, one of the organizers, the measure is not the only one. The fungus that grows fastest from one end to the other is the winner, the one who chooses the shortest path is the winner, and the fastest one who crosses the narrow road is the winner. In short, everyone is happy to participate, it is not important to win or lose, and it is no problem that everyone is a winner.

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who is participating in

the organizers of this fungal Olympics are several fungal researchers, and the participants in the first competition are all fungal scientists from all over the world.

Daniel Irimia, one of the organizers, said the idea for the competition came up because they were using microfluidic devices to study the interaction between immune cells and fungi, such as Aspergillus, which can infect humans. On the one hand, this competition can enhance people's interest in related research, on the other hand, it can also collect some observation data, and maybe make new discoveries. The ultimate goal is to promote fungal research, design better experimental equipment, and provide reference for clinical control of fungal infection.

although the current participants are all insiders, the organizers also hope that more people who are interested in fungi will be involved in the future, such as teachers, students and industrialists who deal with fungi.

I wonder if the second session will be held next.