I began growing glow-in-the-dark mushrooms because... well... I wanted to see what they look like (and yes, they are cool). Panellus stipticus is the most common commercially available species: after purchasing a few different kits, I found that the "Everything Mushrooms" DIY kit (wooden pellets inoculated with P. stipticus) worked the best.  After several months in a dark humid plastic container, the mushrooms have finally grown into large luminous shaggy fungal mats. The photos above were taken with very long exposure (30 seconds): these mushrooms do indeed glow - noticeable in a dark room, but not bright enough that you could read a book by them or find your way out of a dark cave using them as an improvised MacGyver flashlight. 

There are over 75 species of fungus which glow in the dark; the question is: why would mushrooms evolve the ability to glow in the dark (bioluminesce)? One likely possibility: to attract bugs. Insects may act as "propagators" for fungus spores, carrying them to new damp and fertile locations.

Here's a cool brief National Geographic video about testing this very thing: do glowing mushrooms attract more insects?


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