Friday, July 01, 2011

Hyphum

I know a bit about a lot of organisms, but don't really qualify as an expert on any species. It is great fun planning experiments with people who know a lot about a particular organism. I can say, "if a hypha that is only 300 microns breaks in half, do you get two living 150 micron individuals, or two dead hyphae?" and get the immediate response, "The singular of hyphae is hyphum," followed by, "you would get two dead halves, so we don't have to worry about it." This way I can concentrate on designing the experiment and learn good Scrabble words.

2 comments:

gml said...

The endings do not match my awareness (limited, I admit) of singular/plural oombinations in Latinor Greel. Usually, Latin plurals in -ae have -a as the singular, and Greek singulars in -um have -a as plurals. Or were you just using a hypothetical example? GML

Dan Levitis said...

It also does not match my sence of latin endings. There is not much latin I learned in those four years of classes in high school, but I do remember first declention nominative. It turns out that both singulars have been used in the mycological literature. My guess is that 'hypha' is original, and 'hyphum' arose when someone decided to make up a singular for 'hyphae', which are almost always described in the plural.