Mystery of Meghalaya’s glowing mushrooms


The ‘Roridomyces phyllostachydis’ — a new mushrooms species discovered in the forests of Meghalaya — glow bright green

  • A mushroom documentation project in the forests of Northeast India has revealed not only 600 varieties of fungi, but also led to a new discovery: a bioluminescent - or light emitting - variety of mushroom
  • The new species - named Roridomyces phyllostachydis - was first sighted on a wet August night near a stream in Meghalaya’s Mawlynnong in East Khasi Hills district and later at Krang Shuri in West Jaintia Hills district. 
  • It is now one among the 97 known species of bioluminescent fungi in the world.
  • The mushroom belonged to the Roridomyces genus, and was altogether a new species, named after the host bamboo tree, Phyllostachys, from where it was first collected.


Bioluminescent fungi

  • Bioluminescence is the property of a living organism to produce and emit light. Animals, plants, fungi and bacteria show bioluminescence. 
  • Bioluminescent organisms are usually found in the ocean environments, but they are also found on terrestrial environments
  • The colour of the light emitted by the organism depends on their chemical properties.
  • In the case of fungi, the luminescence comes from the enzyme, luciferase
  • The [green] light emits when luciferans is catalysed by the enzyme luciferase, in the presence of oxygen
  • During the chemical reaction, several unstable intermediate products are released as excess energy that makes them visible as light.
  • It may also be a mechanism for the organism to protect itself from frugivorous (or fruit-eating) animals.
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