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article imageMushrooms produce wind to spread spores

By Tim Sandle     Nov 29, 2013 in Science
Mushrooms were thought to produce spores and for these to be carried in the wind in order to spread seeds around. Scientists have now shown mushrooms to be more sophisticated: they can make their own wind.
How do mushrooms spread their spores on a still day? Until recently biologists just assumed that they didn’t, and that on a still day mushrooms were not prone to passing spores to appropriate locations where they could reproduce.
It has now been shown that some species of mushroom have a mechanism whereby they can produce their own wind. This was discovered using high-speed videography and mathematical modeling of spore dispersal in commercially grown oyster and Shiitake mushrooms. Specifically mushrooms create their wind by releasing water vapor. The vapor cools the air locally, and this creates convective cells that move the air around in the mushroom’s vicinity.
The wind effect was shown by Emilie Dressaire, a professor of experimental fluid mechanics at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. The findings were presented at the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD), held in November.
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