Take a guess: what’s the world’s largest organism? No, it’s not Yao Ming. While the Guiness Book of World Records hasn’t weighed in on this issue, scientists out of Oregon State University say that an Armillaria ostoyae individual residing in Oregon’s Blue Mountains is the largest living organism on the planet. Covering 2,200 acres, this tree killing fungus certainly is big. DNA fingerprinting and vegetative pairing confirm that a single individual spans this great distance. In addition to its great size, the fungus is quite old. By using growth rates to estimate age, this scientists estimate that this humongous fungus may be 8,000 years old.
While root rot, the tree killing phenomenon caused by A. ostoyae, slows the rate of tree harvest in a forest, the park service respects the organism’s vital role in the ecosystem. By clearing out old trees, fresh nutrients are resupplied to the soil and room is made for more resistant trees to grow. Besides, how do you kill something that is 1,600 football fields in size?