Bioluminescent Mushrooms - Nature's Glow Sticks

Postby okcismelanie » Sun Jun 17, 2007 7:30 pm

I love this!!!! I can't wait to see them!
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Postby DJmoYst » Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:14 pm

domitron wrote:The thought of these competing somehow with the flora of the black rock dessert, though, is pretty funny.



very funny, i see your point
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Postby MikeVDS » Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:16 pm

They are starting to look tasty. :lol:
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Postby frenchblue1 » Mon Jun 18, 2007 11:41 pm

Very Cool! I just look forward to seeing a few people gather to worship their new god of shroom.
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Postby spectabillis » Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:01 am

in my life i have never heard of glowshrooms.

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Postby domitron » Tue Jun 19, 2007 2:11 pm

Many people have not heard of glowing mushrooms, and it shouldn't be surprising since they are pretty rare. Mushrooms are among a handful of things on land that can produce their own light or bioluminescence.

Almost all species of mushrooms, glowing or not, either have not, or in most cases cannot, be cultivated in artificial conditions sufficiently well to coax them to produce mushrooms (basically the fruit). Fortunately, Panellus Stipticus, the species I have succeeded in growing, does respond well to artificial conditions given specific temperatures, relative humidity, and fresh air exchanges are observed (the "easy" stuff).

Of the mushrooms that glow in nature, some glow from the "roots" or mycelium (honey mushroom), others glow from the gills, and still others glow all over the mushroom. The ones I am bringing glow all over the mushroom and are the brightest on the fastest growing parts, like from the edges of the mushroom shelves.

The glow is about as bright as a day-old green glowstick rated for 8 hours, which is to say it is very dim. When one's eyes adjust to the dim glow, though, it’s really pretty cool. In the future, it is likely that almost every living thing, even humans, could be genetically engineered to glow like these mushrooms do as science has recently become well aware of what genes are responsible and, further, spliced them into all sorts of creature (the last one I heard about was tobacco http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia: ... acco_plant), but these natural mushrooms got there first.
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Postby domitron » Tue Jun 19, 2007 2:28 pm

In case anyone else is interested, in October of last year, National Geographic did a small piece covering several new species of the genus Mycena discovered in Brazil.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news ... -glow.html

I had a chance to speak with Dennis Desjardin, professor of mycology at San Francisco State University in California and in the team that discovered a few new species of glowing mushroom in Brazil, briefly and listen to a presentation he did in November of last year. I thought it was amusing that he said his collegues and him "discovered" four new species of glowing mushrooms by doing something that was sort of scary (and some might say stupid). Basically the scientists went to a rainforest in Brazil in the middle of night and simply shut off all their gear lights. Once their eyes adjusted to the darkness, he said glowing mushroom were all around them and looked like fallen stars all over the ground! They then bumbled in the forest around trying to make their way to these "stars" to collect and identify them. I guess being in the middle of a rainforest in total darkness in the middle of the night deserves a couple new species being discovered. That takes pretty big balls considering some of the stuff that goes bump in the middle of the night in places like that might eat you alive.
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Postby pbmaniac2000 » Thu Jun 28, 2007 9:43 pm

I think it would be awesome for you to put up some of your research around the mushrooms. I think with how much you know about the species it would really really add to it.
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Postby Fat SAM » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:28 pm

So, I'm curious...bearing in mind please, that I know almost nothing about mycology, I'll ask your patience with my questions....

You mention that noone really knows why they glow. Do you have your own theories on the matter? And do they produce light or do they absorb it and glow? Or is that the same? What effect does black light have on them, like just a regular flourescent black light, or whatever it is that's in there?

Is the alkali going to mess them up? I forget if alkali is base or acid...this isn't my sphere of study at all...

I think if you presented this science project style, it would certainly make interesting reading. It's fascinating just hearing about it, let alone seeing them.

And I think you say you've had greater success growing them than is ever really recorded. That's revolutionary. Have you received any recognition? Are you going to?
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Postby capjbadger » Fri Jun 29, 2007 3:48 pm

Fat SAM wrote:So, I'm curious...bearing in mind please, that I know almost nothing about mycology, I'll ask your patience with my questions....

You mention that noone really knows why they glow. Do you have your own theories on the matter? And do they produce light or do they absorb it and glow? Or is that the same? What effect does black light have on them, like just a regular flourescent black light, or whatever it is that's in there?

Is the alkali going to mess them up? I forget if alkali is base or acid...this isn't my sphere of study at all...

I think if you presented this science project style, it would certainly make interesting reading. It's fascinating just hearing about it, let alone seeing them.

And I think you say you've had greater success growing them than is ever really recorded. That's revolutionary. Have you received any recognition? Are you going to?


Not sure why they glow, but I think how they glow is bioluminescence. Same way some algae and fireflys light up.

Alkali is base (basic). That's why vinegar, an acid (acidic), will cancel out the effects. You end up with water and a salt, which you can then just wash off.

I think he said he was going to have the mushrooms in a clear box which will keep most of the dust away.

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Postby Teo del Fuego » Fri Jun 29, 2007 4:40 pm

Hmmmm, an idea surfaces....bio luminescent mushrooms woven into my faux fur coat to make organic Glow Fur! Mushrooms thrive off the methane and bacteria in my shirt and shorts.
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Postby Fat SAM » Fri Jun 29, 2007 7:01 pm

Yeah, but the box is going to have a tyvek cover to allow, what is it? Gas transfer? I would think that something as fragile as a mushroom would be succeptible even to the tiniest amount of foreign matter. And I guess even if alkali is basic (thank you, cap) couldn't that still screw up the pH enough to mess with the shrooms?

And I still don't understand bioluminescence. I don't know how fireflies or algae glow, either...And anyway, he said that noone's really sure how they work.
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:10 am

Fat SAM wrote:Yeah, but the box is going to have a tyvek cover to allow, what is it? Gas transfer?

And I still don't understand bioluminescence.


NO box needed, the gas transfer is simple enough: I expell gas and various body odors and they rise upwards and outwards to nourish the mushrooms planted in my fur coat.

Bio-luminescence: fire flies mix two chemicals that react in such a way that electrons in one of the molecules drops a quantum level, thereby producing a photon of light.
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Postby plowman » Sat Jun 30, 2007 11:58 am

I'm not even going to pretend that I understand all this bioluminescence stuff. I just want to see it. Hope it works and you bring it
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Shrooms with bioluminescence? !

Postby MrOneness » Wed Jul 04, 2007 12:49 pm

This is a fantastic and brilliant idea!

Wishing you the best of luck!

Thanks for sharing!
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Postby FabFascist » Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:48 pm

I can't find the words to describe how cool this sounds!
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Postby Fat SAM » Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:58 pm

Is that true, Fuego? That's pretty neat.

The thing about bioluminescence is cool too.
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Postby dana » Thu Jul 05, 2007 8:22 am

This does sound like a cool but very challenging project. I was having the same thoughts as Bob - seemingly impossible to pull this off given the conditions on the playa. Its not just the ambient temperature but how much the sun will heat up your enclosure.

I've seen bioluminescent fungi in Mexico. Sort of a funny story actually. New years party in a remote location, just smoked a joint with my girlfriend and went for a night time hike up to the waterfalls. When I started seeing the little dots of light, I pointed them out to my girlfriend and said in an appropriately incredulous voice - "look, spirit lights!!" I think I had her going for a brief bit. (I can be a jerk, its true.)

I also got to swim at night in bioluminescent ocean waters in S. America. Very cool.
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Postby domitron » Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:08 pm

Hello, everyone. Sorry but I was out literally on the other side of the world in Fiji enjoying the coral reefs on a rare big vacation. Anyway, it's exciting to be back.

General concerns about this project have plagued me from the start, and to be honest in the beginning I had my doubts that I'd be able to pull it off. The real problem, I feared, was to time the fruiting and keep them alive during Burning Man. The good news is that once these produce mushrooms (i.e. they "fruit") the mushrooms stay around a long time, one good month and one sort of ugly month, they glow all of that time, and they aren't really too sensitive. When I say they aren't sensitive what I mean is that they don't suddenly turn to mush at 98F or die immediately at 45F as many species would. They don't even mind humidity as low as 80% and can recover from even lower humidities pretty well.

All of this tenacity is going to make my job easier because I am bringing the mushrooms to the playa once they have formed. In a sense, it's like brining a banana tree with live bananas in a glass box with gas exchange and showing it to everyone. It's true I probably couldn't get the mushrooms to fruit in the desert, but I can get them to there once the fruit is hanging off the block, show them glowing, and make for a pretty cool display in the process. That's all I am doing here. The real trick in growing these is taking place NOW as I prepare the sterile substrate and reform it into columns.

Having said all of that, there is still a chance things might not work out. Despite the fact I've had two rounds of successful test blocks, the playa is a pretty crazy place. A wind of 70 MPH might knock down the display. Maybe it will get below freezing one night and burst the cells. Or maybe it will reach 120F one day and cook them. BUT given the conditions are no more harsh than they have been since I started attending in 2004, I think I'll be able to pull it off without any problem.
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Postby Somnivore » Sun Jul 08, 2007 2:08 pm

Dom, if you're the same person from the shroomery forum I have to say Bravo! I read that grow log with much respect. This gentleman has done some serious grow work getting these to fruit/survive. Can't wait to see these in person. Good luck!
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Postby domitron » Sun Jul 08, 2007 8:10 pm

Yes, my friends at the Shroomery know me as GourmetMushroom, and yes, I am the guy in the advanced forum with the thread going!

Today I decided that the central column should be HUGE rather than only 6.25" in diameter. It is a full 8.5" in diameter and the full height of the tank (about 21")! It took five full large spawn bags to build it and weighs on the order of 30 POUNDS! The other two will be smaller 6.25" columns to the right and left. The substrate is reforming now into columns which will take about two weeks.
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Postby spectabillis » Mon Jul 09, 2007 2:10 am

domitron wrote: A wind of 70 MPH might knock down the display. Maybe it will get below freezing one night and burst the cells. Or maybe it will reach 120F one day and cook them.


wind - yes. over 120 - rarely, unless something large and metal is colored black and absorbs hours of sunlight. below freezing - not likely but i guess you can check the weather reports. too bad someone hasnt posted the weather monitor site for blackrock lately.

t sounds like you got it covered except for the wind, thats going to be a risk considering the chance of a dust-devil crossing its path. but if you think you want help with something it seems like you have enough support here to find it. i really want to see this thing in the dark.

a friend back in college put himself through from large scale growing of psilocybin based ones. mang that place stank. of course he went on to design electronic flight systems for boeing so i guess the next time you feel the plane suddenly careen in a 747 you can blame bad shrooms.
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Postby domitron » Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:04 pm

You mention that noone really knows why they glow. Do you have your own theories on the matter?


I have heard of several theories. One theory is that they glow for the same reason our teeth are white; that is, it is more or less a byproduct of their metabolism with no real purpose. After all the metabolic energy to produce this glow is infinitesimally small, and we see it mostly just because our eyes are especially sensitive to green. For example, if they glowed blue with the same energy level, we probably couldn’t even see it. Another theory, and one I think is more likely but definitely not conclusive, is that they glow to attack certain insects which eat them and disperse spores. However if this were true, why would this same species not glow in Europe and still be just as widespread?

And do they produce light or do they absorb it and glow? Or is that the same?


They actually produce light. They do not absorb it and glow, and no, those two are not the same. Many glow paints absorb light energy and re-emit it slowly. The source charge for these is not light but the nutrients they derive from breaking down wood and sugars in the presence of oxygen (although oxygen is not the limiting factor so you can’t just expose them to pure oxygen and watch them glow super bright—tried it and it doesn’t work)

What effect does black light have on them, like just a regular fluorescent black light, or whatever it is that's in there?


Black light has absolutely no effect at all. Things which glow in black light (i.e. fluoresce under UV-A) do so by taking in higher energy light and re-emitting it at a lower energy which our eyes can see. These mushrooms do not do this, although many marine coral and algae do.

Is the alkali going to mess them up? I forget if alkali is base or acid...this isn't my sphere of study at all...


Alkali substances are basic (i.e. above a pH of 7.0) and, thus, could theoretically raise the pH of an acidic substance like the substrate these mushrooms will have grown on. However, the mushrooms shouldn’t be affected because (a) they are already formed and won’t melt or anything if they get a bit of alkali dust on them and (b) not much dust would touch them anyway. I used a lot of citric acid to drive the substrate down to the pH they thrive on (around 4.0). A little dust will be no match for that 3/4th pound of citric acid I used anyway.

I think if you presented this science project style, it would certainly make interesting reading. It's fascinating just hearing about it, let alone seeing them.


Because of the mystique of the mushroom, their association with divinity, and the general atmosphere of the deep playa, I will be presenting these mushrooms in a non-scientific light, but thanks for the suggestion.

And I think you say you've had greater success growing them than is ever really recorded. That's revolutionary. Have you received any recognition? Are you going to?


The challenges I’ve faced growing these are not of the monumental type and the fact I have grown them in abundance indoors does not affect people in a revolutionary way; on the contrary, it doesn’t really affect anyone. Furthermore, many truly amazing discoveries in the biological sciences, of which mine in growing Stipticus indoors hardly qualifies, never receive proper recognition even in the academic arenas composed of scientists for which they pertain because science is moving at a back-breaking speed right now with thousands of amazing discoveries being made every year in every branch. And in the public sphere, no one cares much about science anymore, so of course, they are out of the picture entirely. They'd rather hear about Paris Hilton's life or be frightened/entertained by the newest TV news scare mongering.
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Postby Somnivore » Tue Jul 10, 2007 12:19 pm

Yeah, but it's still cool as fuck! :twisted:
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Re: Bioluminescent Mushrooms - Nature's Glow Sticks

Postby madmatt » Fri Jul 13, 2007 6:11 pm

Can't wait to see it! Thanks.
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Incredible!

Postby Taxman » Sun Jul 15, 2007 1:13 pm

I think you are right - I have never heard of anyone being able to grow these mushrooms - are they called jack'o'lanterns? I am a die hard mushroom buff from Australia, flying into San Fransisco until the event. I posted a new thread asking if anyone needed help with their project, in a wwoofer,live-in labour situation.

I am an industrial designer, and a mushroom grower, and I am really awestruck by your project. Where are you based? It would be great to come check out your growing setup, even if you don't need any help.

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Postby domitron » Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:46 pm

Jack 'O' Lanterns (Omphalotus olearius) have not been grown in captivity to my knowledge, but very few mushrooms, relative to the number in nature, have been successfully grown in captivity. I would guess probably less than 0.1% (1 in 1000) of all mushroom species have been grown at any point in history in captivity under any circumstances.

These mushrooms are of species Panellus Stipticus and have been successfully grown countless times OUTDOORS. I have seen some success besides mine indoors too. The interesting part of my grow is that they have been grown indoors and in great abundance AND I have devised a way to mold the final substrate into cool-looking columns that look like tree stumps. The pinning is so massive with the substrate I am using that I see thousands of mushrooms on every block. There are so many pins, in fact, that many have to abort since the block just can't support all of them. I attribute most of my success to lowering the pH of the blocks closer to the ideal for this species with citric acid and the use of liquid culture techniques to create the spawn.

My project is being done in the SF bay area, California.
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Postby domitron » Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:43 am

Alas, it looks like the large center column of 8.5" in diameter, 21" high might be infected. It is about 98% good, but apparently one of the bags was infected with green mold in a few spots, and that mold made it to the column at the vertical level that bag was packed into the mold. I couldn't tell when I added the bag because green mold is white befor it matures and sporlates.

It is possible I can control the green mold sufficiently to achieve a robust fruiting on that column, but it is not really likely. Good mushroom formation requires very high humidity. But this mold loves high humidity, can tolerate acidic conditions well, and will likely take hold of a large part of the column just as it would in nature given I keep the humidity high enough to promote a great fruiting. The green mold is bad because it can spread and prevent mushrooms from forming on the column. If it grows as I expect it to, the huge column will not make it to Burning Man but rather to my garden where nature will deal with it.

The good news is that none of the other four columns are infected at all. That means the display probably will end up as originally planned, which was 3 equally-sized columns of 6.25" in diameter and 16" high. If that's the case, it'll be almost as cool as the giantic column in the center. I'd still rather, of course, the huge column makes it, but I guess only time will tell. I'll probably know in a week which way things will go.
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Postby domitron » Sun Jul 22, 2007 11:09 am

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Postby okcismelanie » Tue Jul 24, 2007 5:08 pm

Live glowing mushrooms inside the mushroom kingdom!!!! I think our walls will block out allot of the wind and we can build some kind of shade where your display will be.

Anyone have any mushroom art they would also like to display inside the mushroom kingdom?
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