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Lightning strikes may increase yield of mushrooms

 
John Saltveit
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There has been lore for years here too that lightning strikes increase fruiting of mushrooms. The hypothesis that I had heard was that it was the increase in the available nitrogen from the air, suddenly available due to electricity breaking up the molecule in the air and making it possible. This story offers some trials and a different possible hypothesis.
Johns
PDX OR

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/04/100409-lightning-mushrooms-japan-harvest/
 
Miles Flansburg
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Interesting John, every day we learn more about how everything is connected .
 
Timothy Black
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Hmm... I dislike it when researchers use anthropomorphic reasoning, and apply it to fungus

I think it's probably more likely that whatever the mechanism is that causes this reaction, it makes more sense from a nutrient perspective. Lightning striking an area means that almost certainly there will be a fire, or at least dead plant material in great abundance for a short time. So, it is not a response to danger, but rather more like a reaction to a dinner bell being rung. Fungi are colony organisms, and its very, very unlikely that you could extinguish an entire colony of mycelium with a single lightning strike. Therefore, I would rather use the analogy of getting slapped in the face

Oh.. that was anthropomorphic.. ah well!

Anyway, I am surprised they are not looking at the substrate before and after the strike and testing the chemical makeup. Lightning (electricity) could have incredible, short term oxidative potential being applied to the salts in the substrate, in which case the fungus would suddenly have a lot more O2 available to them, and since mushrooms are essentially aerobic, that makes sense as well. Since the earth is normally the anode in a discharge, that makes a lot of sense as the anode in an electrolytic cell is also oxidative. Plus, in a lab they could test negative and positive electrical discharges and see the difference, if there was any. They don't seem to be being very rigorous.. or, at least, are not revealing any of these possibilities in their writeup.

Food for thought!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Timothy Black wrote: Anyway, I am surprised they are not looking at the substrate before and after the strike and testing the chemical makeup. Lightning (electricity) could have incredible, short term oxidative potential being applied to the salts in the substrate, in which case the fungus would suddenly have a lot more O2 available to them, and since mushrooms are essentially aerobic, that makes sense as well. Since the earth is normally the anode in a discharge, that makes a lot of sense as the anode in an electrolytic cell is also oxidative. Plus, in a lab they could test negative and positive electrical discharges and see the difference, if there was any. They don't seem to be being very rigorous.. or, at least, are not revealing any of these possibilities in their writeup.

Food for thought!


Great idea for experimentation Timothy.
It would not be terribly difficult to take soil samples and analyze them as the known set, then set lightning rods at the sample locations for an after the strike analysis.
The parameters could be as simple as PKN or as complex as full GC/FID analysis. I think this could even lead to a nice paper. Thanks for the idea.
 
Timothy Black
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Most welcome

I was suggesting it as a part of their controlled experiment.. where they are using artificial "lightning' to affect fungal substrate.

Once that was complete, you could get funding to do the wider, natural survey experiment, I think.

EDIT: actually, this would be a really cheap experiment, on the order of a thousand bucks. Not including labor or chemical/molecular analysis.
 
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