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Weather-maker mushrooms shock scientists

27 November 2013, 8:13 am EST By Roy Blanchard Tech Times
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Mushrooms play an important role in spreading their spores by making their own wind.  ( Lee Cannon )

'Weather-maker' mushrooms, which make their own wind to carry their seeds, have shocked scientists.

The recent study on weather-making mushrooms has been done by Marcus Roper, an assistant professor at the University of California in Los Angeles, and Emilie Dressaire, a professor of experimental fluid mechanics at Trinity College in Hartford.

Previous study indicates that mushrooms drop their spores and wait for a gust of wind to drop them and grow. However, the recent study suggests that mushrooms play an important role in spreading their spores by making their own wind.

The researcher points out that mushrooms create air flow, which allows their moisture to evaporate.

"A mushroom is essentially doing less than nothing to protect its water from evaporating off," said Roper.

The evaporation of water allows the mushrooms to cool off. Cold air is supposed to be denser than warm air and can flow and spread out. The evaporation process also creates water vapor, which is less dense than air. The two forces together allow spores to be carried out of the mushroom and give them a slight lift. The spores can be lifted to around 4 inches both horizontally and vertically.

It is often found that mushrooms grow in places where there is very little wind. However, mushrooms' ability to create wind helps the spores to find a new and moist location for growing.

Roper and Dressaire observed the spread of spores using high-speed cameras and laser light. The combination of images, calculations of water loss in the mushrooms and temperature readings of fungi helped the researchers find that mushrooms make their own wind.

Roper also added that even though the current research was done using laser light, the spreading of spores can also be seen in natural environment.

"If you go in to the woods with a flashlight at night you can see the spores going out in great big clouds," said Roper.

The latest study was presented on Monday, November 25 at the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics in Pittsburgh. The study claims that all mushrooms may have the ability to make win to spread their spores.

The study also highlights how fungi can actually manipulate their environment to reproduce. 

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