Home Nature Meghalaya's Rare Bioluminescent Mushroom That Glow In The Dark

Meghalaya’s Rare Bioluminescent Mushroom That Glow In The Dark

Perhaps you’ve been to the forest in search of mushrooms, only to find yourself spending the whole day there instead. A few are delectable and beneficial to your health, while others are gorgeous creations of mother nature. What if I told you that mushrooms are used as a natural torch as well? This article is about the incredible Bioluminescent Mushrooms.

We at Viraltrendzs would like to tell the tale behind these beautiful and unique species before we learn more about this uncommon bioluminescent mushroom and how it came to be.

A naturally occurring bioluminescent mushroom was found by scientists and is now being used by the villagers as a natural torch. Fungi are found in about 120,000 different species all over the world. There are about 100 of them that have been discovered to be bioluminescent or to be capable of producing light so far in the science world.

Bioluminescent Mushroom Glowing In The Dark.
image credits : Michele P. Verderane

Let’s find out what led to this discovery

Scientists from India and China set out during the monsoon on a fungus investigation in Assam. Over their two-week stay, they were astounded by the region’s incredibly diverse collection of fungus. Numerous fungus species were discovered in the area, including some that had not previously been identified by scientists before.

From locals, they heard about the existence of “electric mushrooms”. That piqued their interest, so they decided to go to the Meghalayan state of West Jaintia Hills. It had been raining all night. The crew was led by a local man to a bamboo grove which is part of a communal forest. And he instructed them to turn out their torches.

What they witnessed a minute later left them speechless. Even though it was pitch-black, dead bamboo sticks covered in tiny mushrooms gave forth an unearthly green light. The fungus itself is a source of illumination which is termed Bioluminescence.

Image credits: Steve Axford

One of the 97 luminous species that exist on the planet.

This newly discovered species, Roridomyces phyllostachydis , was originally discovered on a rainy August night along a stream in Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong region of the East Khasi Hills district. Near a later time, it was discovered at Krang Shuri in the West Jaintia Hills area of the region. It has now been added to the list of the world’s 97 recognized species of bioluminescent fungus.

Bioluminescent Mushroom That Glows In The Dark

The sparkling bamboo sticks were used as torches by the locals to navigate their way through the forest at night. Steve Axford, a fungus photographer who joined the team, set up a small studio and photographed the fungus in its natural habitat there.

They got a better look and saw that the mushroom’s stipes (stalks) were the only thing glowing. Gautam Baruah is one of the report’s co-authors and the leader of the Balipara Foundation’s Rural Futures project in Assam. According to him, they were suspicious that it may be a new species. An in-depth laboratory test had verified their suspicions. It turned out to be a new species of the genus Roridomyces. And it was from India that the first member of this genus was found.

This mushroom was discovered exclusively on dead bamboo, and no other sources have been discovered (Phyllostachys mannii). Chinese Academy of Sciences senior mycologist, Samantha Karunarathna is the report’s lead author. She thinks the fungus favors the bamboo substrate because of certain components found there.  Furthermore, she said that further study is required to determine why these bioluminescent mushrooms are found on this particular bamboo species.

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