A study published in the journal Plos One last week implying that mushrooms may have a direct link to rainfall.
It can be thoroughly refreshing to step out of the busy “A to B” lifestyle and simply admire the world around us. Nature operates like a complex map of biodiversity and natural laws — so complex, in fact, that after thousands of years mankind is still struggling to understand how it all works. But this great mystery and the insatiable human desire for understanding makes new findings in the natural world all the more joyous.
Mushrooms are often associated with two things: psychedelic experiences and pizza toppings. However, Plos One published a study last week implying that mushrooms may have a direct link to rainfall.
Mushrooms reproduce by spreading their spores into the air to be dispersed across the ground. Over a century ago, Arthur Henry Reginald Buller discovered that tiny droplets of water would form on mushroom spores before they were released into the air. This led him to believe that the water formation was directly related to the discharge of the spores. However, it was also believed that whatever was causing these water formations on the mushrooms was eliminated once the spore became airborne.
Professor Nicholas Money of Miami University was able to capture this phenomenon with a high-speed camera. As they had anticipated, Buller was right about the discharge of the spores. Still, the functionality of this strange natural mechanism remains a mystery.
Furthermore, Money and his colleagues also discovered that the properties allowing for water formation on a spore are still present after it becomes airborne. In fact, as the spore is carried through the air, it can pick up more and more bits of moisture, expanding from a speck of humidity to a raindrop. According to Professor Money, this implies that spores directly contribute to rainfall and cloud patterns. In an interview with Newsweek, Money states:
“If you look at satellite photographs of rainforest canopies, you see that lots of small clouds form in the afternoon above the tree canopy, and these are locations where you’ve got very high densities of mushrooms and they’re releasing lots of spores. We’re not saying this is the only way in which clouds form, but this could be a stimulus for cloud formation, which is a rather amazing link.”
Amazing, indeed. The thought of fungi directly contributing to weather patterns is mind-blowing if one takes the time to appreciate the implications. This discovery is further testament to the awe and apparent intelligence of the interconnected biodiversity that composes the serenity found on our planet Earth.
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