AppearanceThis fungus is characterized by a fruiting body with a pinkish-purple color and more or less gelatinous consistency. The apothecia, typically 0.5 to 1.5 centimetres in diameter, start with a roughly spherical shape, then eventually flatten out to become shallowly cup-shaped with a wavy edge and smooth upper surface. The lower surface may be covered with small particles , and the apothecia are either attached directly to the growing surface , or have a rudimentary stem. The apothecia are accompanied by a conidial form, where non-sexual spores are generated. The conidial form consists of sporodochia, a cushion-like asexual fruiting body mass consisting of short conidiophores . The sporodochia are similar in color and consistency to the apothecia but very variable in shape, typically club-, spoon-, or tongue-shaped, and bearing minute, cylindrical, straight or curved conidia. As the fungus matures and the apothecia enlarge and press against each other, the apothecia coalesce to form a gelatinous, irregular mass. The flesh, similar to the appearance of the fungus, is pinkish-purple and gelatinous. The odor and taste of ''A. sarcoides'' are not distinctive.
The spores are translucent (hyaline), smooth, have an ellipsoid shape, with dimensions of 12–16 by 3–5 µm. Spores contain one or two oil droplets. The imperfect (conidial) form of the fungus produces smooth, hyaline spores that are 3–3.5 by 1–2 µm. The asci – sexual spore-bearing cells – have a cylindrical shape, with dimensions of 115–125 by 8–10 µm. The paraphyses (sterile filamentous cells interspersed among the asci) are cylindrical with slightly swollen tips, and few branches.
Naming''Ascocoryne cylichnium'', another small and gelatinous violet-colored species, has apothecia that are more often cup-shaped, and has larger spores—20–24 by 5.5–6 µm. Because of its resemblance to the jelly fungi, ''A. sarcoides'' has been mistaken for the basidiomycete species ''Auricularia auricula'' and ''Tremella foliacea''. ''T. foliacea'' is larger, brown, and leafy in appearance. ''Auricularia auricula'' is also larger, typically brown, is disc- or ear-shaped, with a ribbed undersurface. Microscopically, ''Tremella foliacea'' and ''Auricularia auricula'' are easily distinguished from ''A. sarcoides'' by the presence of basidia .
DistributionThis species has a broad distribution in forested areas of North America and Europe. A saprobic fungus, it derives nutrients from decaying organic matter, and as such is usually found growing on the stumps and logs of fallen deciduous trees. However, it is also found on a variety of living trees as well. For example, in Europe it has been found on the stems of living spruce in Finland, France, Great Britain, Norway, and Germany.
Other collections sites include Australia, Chile, China, Cuba, Iceland, Korea, and Taiwan. In Hawaii, it grows on trunks of fallen ''Cibotium'' and ''Aleurites'' trees. ''A. sarcoides'' occurs most frequently in late summer and autumn.
DefenseA number of field studies conducted in the boreal forest region of Northern Ontario (Canada) showed that A. sarcoides was found to be frequently associated with various deciduous and coniferous tree hosts that had been affected by the fungal disease known as heart rot; this discovery was noted as unusual, as most fungal tree infections are known to be caused by Basidiomycetes, not Ascomycetes. In the case of the commercially valuable tree species black spruce (Picea mariana), it was determined that prior colonization by A. sarcoides reduces the incidence of subsequent infection by common fungal pathogens, such as Fomes pini and Scytinostroma galactina; furthermore, A. sarcoides can exist in the wood with no noticeable harmful effects on the host. A similar relationship was shown later to exist with jack pine trees (species Pinus banksiana), whereby A. sarcoides inhibited Peniophora pseudopini, but had little effect on the subsequent growth of Fomes pini. The study also showed that A. sarcoides is isolated more frequently from defective wood as the age of the tree increases (trees examined in the study were over 80 years old), and that it can infect both uninfected heartwood as well as previously decayed wood; in the latter case it usually coexists with the causal fungi.
Terphenylquinones are chemical compounds that are widely distributed among the Basidiomycetes division of fungi. Ascocoryne sarcoides has been shown to contain a terphenylquinone named ascocorynin—a chemical derivative of the compound benzoquinone. This pigment, when in alkaline solution, turns a dark violet, similar in color to the fruit bodies of the fungus. Ascocorynin has moderate antibiotic activity, and was shown in laboratory tests to inhibit the growth of several Gram-positive bacteria, including the widely distributed food spoilage organism Bacillus stearothermophilus; however, it has no effect on the growth on Gram-negative bacteria, nor does it have any anti-fungal activity.
In 2008, an isolate of A. sarcoides was observed to produce a series of volatiles including 6 to 9 carbon alcohols, ketones and alkanes. This mixture was called "Mycodiesel" because of its similarity to some existing fuel mixtures. The isolate was originally identified at Gliocladium roseum but its taxonomy was later revised to Ascococoryne sarcoides. Its genome was sequenced in 2012 in an effort to determine the genetic basis for the production of these volatiles.
UsesAscocoryne sarcoides is not considered edible.
Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.