Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Glow-in-the-Dark 'Shrooms

No, they're not the latest party drug. Most people are probably unaware that luminescent fungi even exist, let alone in at least 64 different species, all living in the danker regions of the world. But for those who are keeping track, the number is out of date, thanks to a mushroom expedition that revealed seven new species of 'shrooms in Asia, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Or more precisely, researchers found four brand-new species and three previously known species that were newly discovered to glow. They all emit a greenish-yellow light, possibly to lure nocturnal animals so they will eat the fungi and spread their spores, scientists said. The idea is almost poetic — and so are the names given to two of the new species. Discoverer Dennis Desjardin of San Francisco State University, who published his findings in October in the journal Mycologia, named two of the glowing specimens Mycena luxaeterna and Mycena luxperpetua — references to "eternal light" and "perpetual light," borrowed from Mozart's Requiem.