Electric Mushrooms- Torches for the locals’

When was the last time you came across wild mushrooms? Oh wait! Scratch that. Have you ever heard of glowing mushrooms? Yes, you read absolutely right. Don’t worry, in this article you’ll get to know everything about this miraculous mushroom.

It sounds like a psychedelic riddle, but believe me when I say that bioluminescent mushrooms are a reality.

There are about 120,000 known species of fungi, and amongst them only around 100 are known to be bioluminescent or in simple words, capable of emitting light. Before we dive in deeper let us first take a look at the story behind these fascinating and mind-blowing exotic species.

The story behind the discovery

Scientists were amazed on the discovery of the glowing mushrooms, used by locals as natural torches. During the monsoon season, a team of scientists from India and China embarked on a fungal foray in Assam. After hearing reports from the locals about the ‘electric mushrooms’, out of curiosity they headed to West Jaintia Hills District in Meghalaya. 

It was drizzling that night and the team was guided by a local to the bamboo forest. Then the local asked them to switch off their torches.

The team was bedazzled by what they saw: amidst the darkness an eerie green glow emerged from a dead bamboo sticks that were covered with mushrooms.

The new species

The new species- named Roridomyces phyllostachydis- was first sighted near a stream in Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong in East Khasi Hills District. This mushroom was found only on the dead bamboo plants.

What does bioluminescent fungi means?

Bioluminescence is a property exhibited by living creatures to produce and emit light. The colour of the light emitted by the organism depends on their chemical properties.

In fungi, the luminescence comes from the enzyme, luciferase. The green light is emitted from the fungi when luciferans is catalysed by the enzyme luciferase, in the presence of oxygen. Luciferans give fireflies and the bioluminescent underwater creatures their characteristic glow as well. The mushrooms glow 24 hours and are not reactive.

Other bioluminescent mushrooms in India

Numerous glowing fungi have been reported in other parts of India as well. Two have been reported from the Western Ghats, one from the Eastern Ghats, and one in the state of Kerala, among others. Some have been spotted in Maharashtra and Goa as well, but they were not scientifically reported.

Read more about glowing mushrooms at:https://www.india.com/viral/mysterious-new-mushrooms-species-that-glow-bright-green-found-in-meghalaya-forests-heres-why-4218923/

“Animals, plants, fungi and bacteria show bioluminescence. Bioluminescent organisms are usually found in the ocean environments, but they are also found on terrestrial environments. The colour of the light emitted by the organism depends on their chemical properties,” Samantha Karunarathna, mycologist from the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, who was part of the team that discovered the mushroom, told East Mojo.

Bioluminescence- https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/bioluminescence/#:~:text=Encyclopedic%20Entry%20Vocabulary-,Bioluminescence%20is%20light%20produced%20by%20a%20chemical%20reaction%20within%20a,reaction%20where%20light%20is%20produced.