Racing Fungi


  • Genetic mutations are changes in the DNA “blueprint” which can result in “good” or “bad” consequences for a living thing. In fungi, mutations may affect growth rate, and scientists at MU use a special tool, called a “race tube”, to measure how fast a fungus is growing over the course of several days. They can make inferences about the effect of a mutant on fungal growth.
  • During this Data Nugget, students will analyze data on fungal growth to make inferences about how mutations can affect fungal growth, and they will conduct their own experiment using the “race tube” method. Students will learn about how mutations can affect traits, such as fungal growth, and that mutations can have both positive and negative effects. They will interpret data that they collect to infer what environmental factors might influence fungal growth.

Time Requirement:

  • This lesson is designed to extend over several class periods.
    • During the first period, students will graph scientist-collected data and make evidence-based conclusions on how different strands of fungi grow at different rates.
    • During the next 2-3 periods, students will design and implement their own experiment on how environmental factors can affect fungal growth.

Information about the Author:

  • Logan Decker is graduate student in Biological Sciences at MU working with Dr. Patrick Shiu.
  • For his PhD research, Logan is investigating how changes in genes affect the development of vital functions in a model fungal system, Neurospora crassa.
  1. Teacher Guide
  2. Student Worksheet