Bioluminescent Mushrooms

Matt MacK @ 2020-05-25 15:55:15 -0700

Nature never ceases to amaze. Several species of fungi have been discovered with the incredible ability to emit green light, providing beautiful displays of color throughout the night.

A glowing fungus actually performs its radiant act as part of a crucial biological function. If fungi glow on their cap, it’s to attract insects. Specifically, spore-spreading insects that will serve as a transmitter of the fungi to a new location within its wooded ecosystem. Other fungi are bioluminescent on their less exposed underside instead. Scientists believe this serves as a defense mechanism to ward off hungry animals.

How does it work?

Their captivating green glow stems from a chemical interaction between two particular compounds within the mushroom. These two compounds, luciferin, and the luciferase enzyme become activated when oxygen is detected. Interacting with each other, these compounds combine to produce a reaction called oxyluciferin. When oxyluciferin is released, an oxygen molecule is emitted along with it.

The energy these mushrooms use to ensure fertility and to ward off predators is a biological function we all get to marvel and enjoy.