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Carpet Monsters and Killer SporesA Natural History of Toxic Mold$
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Nicholas P. Money

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195172270

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195172270.001.0001

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A Plague upon Your House

A Plague upon Your House

(p.127) 8 A Plague upon Your House
Carpet Monsters and Killer Spores

Nicholas P. Money

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers other fungi that grow in buildings. Meruliporia incrassata has become a frequent problem in California, where its massive rootlike organs, called rhizomorphs, snake into homes and destroy their timber frames. Serpula lacrymans causes dry rot in Europe and has plagued buildings and wooden ships for hundreds of years. Samuel Pepys was exasperated by the effects of dry rot on the Royal Navy in the 17th century, and Thomas Faraday sought a “cure” for this fungus in the 19th century. Dry rot appeared in the writings of Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe, and is also mentioned in Leviticus. A microbial menace, called the artillery fungus, that uses a miniature cannon to shoot its black spore-filled balls onto new food sources is described. This extraordinary feat of biomechanics causes this fungus to spatter itself onto automobiles, serving as yet another fungal stimulus for lawsuits.

Keywords:   dry rot, wet rot, Meruliporia incrassata, rhizomorphs, Serpula lacrymans, Samuel Pepys, Thomas Faraday, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, artillery fungus

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