Geek Trivia

Which Of These Weather Phenomenon Enhance The Growth Of Mushrooms?

Hail Storms
Early Frost
Lightning Strikes
The Audubon Society Was Originally Founded In Reaction To?

Answer: Lightning Strikes

There is a long standing superstition that thunderstorms and the accompanying lightning strikes are good for mushroom crops. This belief isn’t isolated to a single region or culture, but repeated all across the world from South American countries like Peru all the way to the steppes of Mongolia in Asia. This bit of lore features prominently in the “beliefs” of farmers in Japan, where mushrooms have long been a staple component of local cuisine, so it should come as no surprise that it was a group of Japanese agricultural researchers that proved lightning strikes actually¬†do lead to plentiful harvests of mushrooms.

In multiple experiments conducted at Japanese research facilities, the researchers found exposure to brief high-voltage charges, simulating nearby lightning strikes diffused through the soil, yielded enormous increases in mushroom production. The mushrooms exposed to the electrical discharge not only grew larger, but also exhibited a 50-100 percent increase in mass.

How does a lightning strike super charge the growth of mushrooms? The conclusion of the research was that the electricity in the soil stimulated the hyphae, which are elongated cells that act like roots, leading to an initial decrease in the proteins and enzymes secreted by the hyphae, which was soon followed by an increase of a particular enzyme, laccase. This enzyme, in turn, triggers rapid reproduction (thus the bigger crop) and improved growth of the mushrooms (thus the bigger individual ones).

Not only is this discovery interesting, as it verifies that the old farming lore is true, but it’s also quite useful to the mushroom industry. Japan imports tens of thousands of tons of mushrooms every year to keep up with demand. Incorporating electrical shocks during the mushroom growing process could help mushroom farmers keep up with the demand.