Posted in biology, chemistry, Illumination

Natural beauty: glow-in-the-dark mushrooms

This story came out back in October, and I’ve been hanging onto it until now because, well, it’s not like the mushrooms are prettier in the dark. They’re just bioluminescent. Lots of things can do that. But, it’s natural beauty, and it turns out the scientists were inspired by artists in naming this thing, so there you go.

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.

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.”)

Advertisements

Author:

Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.