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Fungi, thunder and lightning.  RSS feed

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Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
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I thought I'd explore further a brief reference to thunderstorms and their apparent link to mushroom fruiting. It's been known for many years that a major mushroom flush will often follow a good thunderstorm. Now, I'm hesitant about linking two events when one simply follows another, and it might reasonably be suspected that the cause is not lightning but the drenching given to the substrate.

It turns out there may be something in it. This has been covered in other threads, but keeps dying out before it gets very far. It turns out that in Japan they have been experimenting with giving electric shocks (really) to mushroom logs, and obtaining much higher yields as a result. You can learn more here: https://blog.mycology.cornell.edu/2013/01/20/zap-lightning-gods-and-mushrooms/

You don't actually need much - a few volts and a controller will do it (diagram at the link), so it might conceivably be run off a small solar array, or just a battery.

That said, other trials have involved higher voltages in a ten-millisecond burst, which seems to involve technology beyond most Permies: http://phys.org/news/2010-04-lightning-mushrooms.html

While I, personally, can't cause thunderstorms, I might be able to manage the next best thing.

It seems to be a really good way not only to get higher yields out of your mushrooms but also obtain some degree of predictability over the flush.

It does seem that there remain things to be understood. Maybe the shock causes the mycelium to increase its efforts to reproduce. We don't know how the shock might affect either forest trees or the mycelium. A direct lightning strike would kill both tree and mycelium.

Are you getting higher yields in the short term while trading off smaller ones later? You only have so much substrate, after all.

I wonder (and I can't find any mention of this) whether the electric shock might alter the ion exchange capacity between the mycelium and the substrate, thus increasing nutrient availability. This is consistent with changes in hyphae activity following a shock. (I don't know: I'm guessing.) If this is the case then more frequent, lower voltage jolts might be safer for the fungus and the Permie.

It also occurs to me that dropping a log (which might be consistent with the impact of thunder) will also stimulate fruiting. The two probably aren't related, and I'm not sure how to test the idea, but it seems like a coincidence worth following up.

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