Bitter oyster

flashy forest fungus

more information

The bitter oyster is a fungus that occurs in deciduous forests on many continents. The mushroom of this species is not toxic, but tastes acrid and bitter and is therefore not consumed. The luminous properties of this fungus have been known since the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed and described it.

The bitter oyster is a fungus that occurs in deciduous forests on many continents. The mushroom of this species is not toxic, but tastes acrid and bitter and is therefore not consumed. The luminous properties of this fungus have been known since the Greek philosopher Aristotle observed and described it.

fungal fruits

The fruiting body of the bitter oyster, the mushroom, develops when the temperature and humidity are high enough. On the underside of the cap of the mushroom is the hymenium, the tissue that produces the spores. With the help of spores, fungi can spread over greater distances. 

light in the dark forest 

The biological light phenomenon bioluminescence is a chemical reaction in a cell in which light is formed. Two substances are needed for this: the pigment luciferin and the enzyme luciferase. Furthermore, oxygen and biochemical energy are required. The light is released as soon as the enzyme luciferase binds the oxygen to luciferin.

There are several theories as to why mushrooms give light. The most likely function of the light is to attract phototrophic insects. We call an organism positive phototrophic when it moves towards light. When the insects come on or pass under the mushrooms, they spread the spores of the fungus. Another theory states that the light, which always has the same greenish color, is a by-product of the metabolism of the fungus in the breakdown of lignin.
Both the hat of the mushroom and the mycelium of Panellus stipticus can give light. In addition to mushrooms, there are also bacteria, algae, insects, molluscs, and fish that can exhibit bioluminescence.

mad molds 

Wood consists largely of three substances: cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. Few organisms can break down these strong, long molecules. Fungi such as Panellus stipticus cut the molecules into pieces with the help of enzymes. First a fungal spore adheres to plant material, such as a dead branch. Then fungal threads, called hyphae, begin to grow. The hyphae produce enzymes that break down the wood. This releases nutrients that the fungus can absorb.

P. stipticus has specialized enzymes to break down lignin particularly well. Pure cellulose has a white color, while pure lignin has a darker, yellowish color. Because P. stipticus breaks down the lignin component of wood, relatively more cellulose remains. Because of this, fungi such as P. stipticus are also called white rot. Conversely, there are also fungi that are more specialized in cellulose breakdown. These species are called brown rot, because relatively more lignin remains.