T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Aseroe rubra (Anemone stinkhorn)

Kingdom: Fungi
Division: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Phallales
Family: Phallaceae
Genus: Aseroe
Species: A. rubra
Binomial name: Aseroe rubra
Synonyms: Aseroe hookeri, Aseroe viridis, Aseroe corrugata
Common names: Anemone stinkhorn, Sea anemone fungus, Starfish fungus, Stinkhorn.

Aseroe rubra is a common southern hemisphere basidiomycete fungus recognizable for its foul odour of carrion and its sea anemone shape when mature. It is rare in the northern hemisphere. 
This saprotroph fungi (feeds on dead organic matter) and is found on decomposing plant matter as well as on woodchips and mulch and is common in gardens. It also occurs in alpine grasslands and woodlands
Aseroe rubra red star-shaped structure is covered in a brownish slime. Its spores are this slime which smells of fæces or carrion and it is this odour that attracts flies, which spread the spores.
It begins as a partly buried whitish egg-shaped structure 3 cm in diameter, which bursts open as a hollow white stalk with reddish arms erupts and grows to a height of 10 cm. It matures into a star-shaped structure with six to ten arms up to 3.5 cm long radiating from the central area. These arms are bifid (deeply divided into two limbs). The top of the fungus is covered with dark olive-brown slime or gleba, which smells of rotting meat. There is a cup-shaped volva (cuplike structure) at the base that is the remnants of the original egg.

The biochemistry of the slime covering the top of this fungus. Like other stinkhorn fungi Aseroe rubra bioaccumulates the element manganese. It has been postulated that this element plays a role in the enzymatic breakdown of the gleba with simultaneous formation of odorous compounds. Compounds like dimethyl sulfide, aldehydes, and amines which contribute to the disagreeable odor of the gleba. These are produced by the enzymatic decarboxylation of keto acids and amino acids, but the enzymes will only work in the presence of manganese.