Glow-in-the-Dark Mushrooms Discovered
By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer
05 October 2009 12:02 pm ET
As if teensy night-lights were dangling from tree trunks and branches, glow-in-the-dark mushrooms illuminate the forests across the globe. Now, scientists have discovered several species of such radiant ‘shrooms.
The freaky findings, reported today in the journal Mycologia, increases the number of aglow mushroom species from 64 to 71, shedding light on the evolution of luminescence in nature.
The newly identified mushrooms, which emit a bright, yellowish-green light 24 hours a day, were found in Belize, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia and Puerto Rico. They include four species new to science and three new reports of luminescence in known species.
“If daylight was not so bright you could see them during the day, but the greenish-yellow light does not stand out against daylight so we cannot visualize them,” lead researcher Dennis Desjardin of San Francisco State University told LiveScience. “But take them into a dark room at any time of day, and wait until your eyes adjust to the darkness, and you’ll see them glow very nicely.”
Here are some of the highlights:
* Found on sticks in an Atlantic forest habitat, Mycena luxaeterna is tiny, each cap spanning 0.3 inches (8mm) in diameter, with jelly-like stems. (The species’ name, which means “eternal light,” was inspired by Mozart’s “Requiem.”)
* One psychedelic-looking mushroom, called Mycena silvaelucens, was found on the bark of a standing tree at the Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in Borneo, Malaysia. Each mushroom cap measuries just over a half inch (18 mm) in diameter.
* So-called Mycena luxarboricola was collected from the bark of a living tree in an old growth Atlantic forest in Paraná, Brazil. Each cap measures less than 0.2 inches (5 mm) in diameter. (The species’ name, which means “perpetual light,” was also inspired by Mozart’s “Requiem.”)
“What interests us is that within Mycena, the luminescent species come from 16 different lineages, which suggests that luminescence evolved at a single point and some species later lost the ability to glow,” Desjardin said.
How a mushroom gets its glow. Biologists are working out the steps to fungal bioluminescence. By Susan Milius. 9:00am, April 27, 2017: here.
In the depths of the oceans, forests, coral reefs and even the damp caves of New Zealand, living things are creating their own light. Scientists are discovering how and why these organisms glow: here.