Mushrooms can control the weather
MUSHROOMS have an extraordinary ability to control the weather, scientists have learned.
By altering the moisture of the air around them, they whip up winds that blow away their spores and help them disperse.
Plants use a variety of methods to spread seeds, including gravity, forceful ejection, wind, water and animals. Mushrooms have long been thought of as passive seed spreaders, releasing their spores and then relying on air currents to carry them.
But new research has shown that mushrooms are able to disperse their spores over a wide area even when there is not a breath of wind -- by creating their own weather.
Scientists in the US used high-speed filming techniques and mathematical modelling to show how oyster and shiitake mushrooms release water vapour that cools the air around them, creating convection currents. This in turn generates miniature winds that lift their spores into the air.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
"Our research shows that these 'machines' control their local environments, and create winds where there were none in nature," said lead scientist Professor Emilie Dressaire, from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. "That's pretty amazing, but fungi are ingenious engineers."