Mushrooms Make It Rain

'Nothing else works like this in nature'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2015 6:19 PM CDT
Mushrooms Make It Rain
A new study shows the spores released by mushrooms could actually be helping produce the rain mushrooms need to grow.   (AP Photo/Siobhan Starrs)

It turns out mushrooms may be better for more than topping pizzas. Who knew? According to a study published Wednesday, mushrooms may actually help produce the rain they need to live. Discovery reports researchers documented a previously unknown system in which rain makes mushrooms grow, mushrooms release spores into the atmosphere, and those spores create moisture droplets that could lead to rain. “We can watch big water droplets grow as vapor condenses on (the mushroom spore’s) surface,” study author Nicholas Money tells Discovery. “Nothing else works like this in nature.” This process could be influencing climate patterns around the world, especially in fungus-heavy tropical forests like the Amazon, Gizmodo reports.

According to Gizmodo, a single mushroom can "catapult" up to 30,000 spores per second at speeds of up to 4mph. And it's been estimated mushrooms release 50 million tons of spores into the atmosphere every year. Using an electron microscope, researchers were able to watch water from humid air attach itself to those same spores to create cloud-forming particulates, Discovery reports. “Sixteen-thousand species of mushrooms can do the same trick, so the most abundant species of fungi are likely to have the greatest effect upon cloud formation,” Money says. Unfortunately for California, Money doesn't recommend growing mushrooms to fight droughts despite their potential rain-making abilities. “Nature works very well when we leave her alone,” he tells Discovery. (Read how portobello mushrooms could power your phone.)

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