Mushrooms that glow and are tasty too!

We all know the healthy properties of mushrooms, we like to eat them, and it can be counted as one of the favourite dishes for many. But would it be downright creepy if you are about to switch on the lights of your kitchen and see something glowing in the dark? Worry not, they may as well be bioluminescent mushrooms. And yes, they are found in India too. 

Now scientists have discovered a new variety of mushrooms in Northeast India. These are no ordinary mushrooms but bioluminescent, meaning they emit a bright green light in the dark!

One of many

The species is named Roridomyces hyllostachydis and was first sighted in August near a stream in Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong in East Khasi Hills district and later at Krang Shuri in West Jaintia Hills district.  This new fungi is now among 97 species of bioluminescent mushrooms in the world.

The finding

A team of scientists from India and China had been researching fungal biodiversity in the states of Meghalaya, Assam, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. After locals reported of ‘electric mushrooms’, the team reached a bamboo forest. What they saw was awe inspiring. In the midst of darkness, they could see an eerie glow. This light was coming from the tiny mushrooms covering the dead bamboo sticks. 

What’s bioluminescence?

Bioluminescence is the property of a living organism to produce and emit light.

Bioluminescent organisms are usually found in the ocean environments, but sometimes they appear on land too. In the case of fungi, the luminescence comes from the enzyme, luciferase. 

It may also be a mechanism for the organism to protect itself from frugivorous (or fruit-eating) animals.