An “orange goo” that covered the Inupiat village of Kivalina, Alaska, last summer alarmed residents, perplexed local, state, and federal agencies, and caused an international sensation in the press.
Six months later the substance was confirmed by forestry experts at the USDA Forest Service and the Canadian Forest Service to be rust fungi uredospores of Chrysomyxa ledicola. These are normally associated with several species of spruce trees and Labrador Tea, Rhododendron tomentosum. Black Spruce (Picea mariana) commonly lines rivers in this region of Alaska and Labrador Tea is a common plant in the understory.
The rapid response by NCCOS scientists and outreach specialists to correctly identify the mysterious orange goo quickly resolved health concerns of local residents and provided correct information to the Alaska Fisheries.
NCCOS researchers will support USDA’s summer 2012 collection effort by providing scanning electron microscopy identification of the spores to track the extent of this fungus in western Alaska