Though it might seem a little ‘trippy’, scientists in Brazil have finally proven that some mushrooms do indeed glow and emit a powerful visual presence. But, importantly, they’ve finally figured out precisely why the mushrooms glow.
In Brazil, the coconut flower mushroom was examined and studied for its bioluminescent qualities. In the end, scientists theorise that the mushrooms glow so as to attract insects that then spread the fungal spores around the area. The process has long been a mystery, but recent studies indicate that the mystery has been solved.
Cassius Stevani, from Brazil’s Instituto de Química-Universidade de São Paulo, says that the issue had long plagued scientists.
“Our research provides an answer to the question, ‘Why do fungi make light?’ that was first asked, at least first asked in print, by Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago,” Mr. Stevani told the ABC. “The answer appears to be that fungi make light so they are noticed by insects who can help the fungus colonise new habitats.”
Dartmouth College’s Geisel School of Medicine representative Jay Dunlap says it is the process of evolution that makes the new study so fascinating.
“Because it has evolved so many times in so many different organisms, each with their own biology, studying bioluminescence gives one a window on living things in all their wonderful diversity, and it sends you off to questions that you did not know existed,” Dunlap explained.
Researchers also found that the rare luminescent mushroom (there are only about seventy in the world) is regulated by a circadian rhythm that directs the mushroom to emit light during the night time. In this manner, the bright fungus can attract more bugs and be seen more clearly.
So the next time you think you’ve seen a mushroom glowing, it might just be one of the rare, light-emitting kind!
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