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July 5, 2013

On June 26, I posted the two pictures below about what appeared to be a strange organism growing on urea pellets.  Several experts at Iowa State looked at the pictures and could not determine what the problem was.  Last week, we received a sample of the material.  To everyone's surprise, this was not an organism at all, but a formation of chemical crystals that appear to be biological but are in fact chemical in origin.  They are even green in color and look exactly like an organism.  We have no idea what conditions can lead to the formation of these crystals of this type on urea.  If anyone has any further insights, let me know.

Fertilizer Organisms



June 26, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a picture of coral fungus from a lawn in Iowa.  That prompted the following pictures from a reader of the blog.  This is a strange organism growing on urea pellets.  I had not anything like this before, so I sent it on to Melissa Irizarry at the Plant Disease lab.  Melissa decided that it is not a coral fungi, but was not sure what it was.  She sent to Leonor Leandro in plant pathology.  Leonor doesn't think that it is a fungi at all, but that it may be a bryophyte or maybe an unusual moss.  She sent it on to Jim Colbert, an expert in these types of organisms.  Jim says the following:

  1. They aren't coral fungi
  2. They could be lichens in the genus Leptogium, some of which look a bit like this (  when they're wet. Were these specimens wet?
  3. The specimen in the center of "fungi 2.jpg" looks very much like an acrocarpous moss.
  4. Fertilizer pellets would be a pretty unusual habitat for either of these types of organisms...

We are getting a sample to study in more detail.

Has anyone else out there seen this type of organism growing on urea (or any type of fertilizer) pellets?



Fertilizer Organisms