Biology, Feature Post, Other

7 new luminescent mushroom species discovered

shrooms1Man I tell you, you can never have enough mushrooms… it’s really hard to put my finger on it, but for some reason they’re just really awesome; and glow in the dark mushrooms, that’s even more awesome. Not one, but seven of these new species were discovered, increasing the number of luminescent fungi from 64 to 71 (71 species of mushrooms that glow in the dark… that’s really something).

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Reported in today’s journal of Mycologia, these discoveries also shed some light on the evolution of luminescence. San Francisco State University Biology Professor Dennis Desjardin and colleagues discovered the fungi in Belize, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia and Puerto Rico and these discoveries mean four species that are absolutely new and three new reports of luminescence in already known species. What’s really interesting is that three quarters of these glowing shrooms belong to the Mycena genus, a group that feed off and decompose organic matter as a source of nutrients.

“What interests us is that within Mycena, the luminescent species come from 16 different lineages, which suggests that luminescence evolved at a single point and some species later lost the ability to glow,” said Desjardin

“It’s pretty unusual to find this many luminescent species, typically only two to five percent of the species we collect in the field glow,” Desjardin said. “I’m certain there are more out there.”

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They have already named two of the species Mycena luxaeterna (eternal light) and Mycena luxperpetua (perpetual light), inspired by Mozart’s Requiem, and also by the fact that they glow 24 hours a day. Until today, Desjardin has discovered more than 200 glow in the dark species of mushrooms, and while I’m not sure how useful they really are, one thing’s for sure: they’re really cool.

  • Lucila Rondissone

    When scientist found a glow-in-the-dark protein (Green Flourescent Protein or GFP) from a jellyfish, one may think that they also didn’t know how useful it will become.
    Nowadays, it’s a basic tool for molecular biology. Imagine this: you are trying to trace a protein as it moves inside a cell. You cannot watch it on a regular microscope, so you synthesize an artificial-fusion protein which is your protein glued to GFP. And now, if you use a fluorescence microscope, you can watch the green spot as it moves. Voilá! Now you have a way to see proteins’ movement!
    Then, the scientists created mutants of GFP that glows in different colours: YFP (yellow), RFP (red), BFP (blue), etc. And so, you can have a cell with different fusion proteins and you can watch them at the same time! (not strictly speaking, as you need different channels on the microscope to watch each colour).

  • http://www.zmescience.com Mihai Andrei

    Thanks Lucila! You pointed out the usefulness way better than I was able to