A team of researchers discovered how and why some mushrooms glow in the dark. According to the new study, some of these mushrooms glow at night in order to attract the insects that can help them with their reproduction process by spreading fungal spores.
The researchers published their new findings in the journal Current Biology.
The bioluminescent mushrooms have been on Earth since prehistoric times, but it wasn’t until now that the scientists uncovered the explanation behind their unique “super power”.
Jay Dunlap, biologist at Geisel School of Medicine and one of the senior researchers of the new study, explained that these fungi, called Neonothopanus gardneri, glow in the dark so that the insects can notice them and help them spread by colonizing new habitats.
According to the experts, nighttime is the perfect time for humidity and germination which leads to a more efficient spore dispersal.
Dunlap and his team of researchers conducted an experiment to see whether their theory was scientifically valid.
They created artificial mushrooms which they connected to green LED light that glowed in the night.
The fake glow in the dark mushrooms attracted more insects than the real mushrooms that weren’t luminous.
The fake fungi attracted arthropods insects such as beetles, wasps and ants.
According to the scientists, this particular glow in the dark mushroom needs help for spore dispersion because there is little wind at the base of palm trees, where the fungus usually grows.
That’s why they developed the unique feature of glowing in the dark, so that it can attract the insects; the fungi’s spores attach themselves to the insects’ bodies and get carried to other regions.
Also, another fascinating fact about these fungi is that they turn their luminous light at night and turn it off when daytime.
The mushroom can also regulate its own luminous schedule using an adaptive function.
Dunlap says that night temperature can turn the light a ghostly green.
According to the biologists, there are other 70 species of mushrooms that glow in the dark, but unlike this one, the others are luminescent continuously. They can achieve this using oxygen and energy, researchers say.
Image Source: mushroom-art
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