Bioluminescence #2

After my previous post on Panellus stipticus, a bioluminescent fungus, I went out near my house and collected from 4 or 5 different locations. I took them home and set them BioLum2up like I had previous collections. Some glowed (picture to left, notice the linear effect from the top of the limb) and some did not. The second picture is the same branch in daylight. I had water sprayed all specimens and kept them together until “the viewing”. Now I’m curious about why the glowing phenomenon was selective. They were all hydrated, and (based on form and condition) they all seemed to be the same age.

Pan2The collections on old branches glowed, but the ones I had chiseled off their substrate did not (Picture #3, we viewed the gill surface also). At first I thought it may be because, for some reason, the phenomenon of glowing required being connected to the substrate and mycelial mass, assuming it is in the wood as well as the bark. Then I got a call from Don at Silver Fir Media. I had mailed him the same log I used to capture my first bioluminescence, so I knew it had worked before, but he did not get any glowing. When Don got the sample, it Pan1had been in a dark box for three days. So, I thought maybe they need light to “recharge”, because the bioluminescence is due to changes in the energy levels of electrons. To test this, I put all my currect collections, hydrated, into the sun for a day. The result was I still got the identical selective pattern of which collections glowed.

So, to date, I am mystified why or why not bioluminesence. The same old basic science questions: (1) Why here, not there? (2) Why now, not then? We shall keep on collecting and observing.

Bioluminescence – Big South Fork

charit 1

October 14, 10:00 a.m., found me standing at the trailhead to Charit Creek Lodge in the Big South Fork National Recreation Area. My mission was to locate and/or collect bioluminescent fungi for Silver Media to use in a documentary on the BSFNRA they were producing for the National Park Service.

Don O’Brien, their President and Director, had been put in contact with me last year by Matt Peterson, a former student interested in mushrooms and working at Charit Creek Lodge. I was to meet the crew that evening at the lodge and take them out for a nighttime filming.

charit bridge

There was a new moon and clear skies that night, and I thought I might find either some Honey Mushrooms, Jack O’Lanterns or Panellus stipticus for them to use. As it turns out I found some Panellus almost immediately on the hike into the gorge as well as several other locations near the lodge. Even with trail hiking and bushwhacking over 5 miles that day and the next, I never came across Jacks or Honeys,but the Panellus was sufficient.

Panellus stipticusThe picture at the left is of a collection made at the NAMA Foray two weeks before.It was quite educational observing the crew set up the photo shoot after dark, in situ, about 100 yards from the lodge. In case you are interested they used an ISO 3200 with a 24 sec exposure.



EMbiolumThe picture to the left is from the web site of Everything Mushrooms in Knoxville (click on picture to go there) which sells Panellus sawdust spawn to those who wishing to try growing their own crop of bioluminescent fungi. I will update this post with the Silver Fir Media images when they become available. What is really cool about theirs is they are in video rather than just still shots. Using a remote/programmable camera mounted on a rail track, a series of over 100 images were taken as the camera tracked. These images are then sequenced to animate a scanning image (10 sec) of the fungus colony. Some soft LED lighting was set up in the surrounding woods so that the substrate (wooden branch they were growing on) can be subtlety distinguished. It’s quite captivating.

This was an especially enjoyable adventure for me because Silver Fir Media also produced the NPS documentary on the Obed Wild and Scenic River which featured my friend Billy Bob Scarborough. My wife and I were long time open boat tandem paddlers, and Billy Bob guided our first descents on the Obed system. He also led a few  memorable trips down the Big South Fork gorge. So, the documentary brings back a lot of good memories and some not so pleasurable, but educational, like flipping at the entrance to Rocking Chair rapid on Daddy’s Creek in high water – a long and dangerous swim. We appreciate his rescue skills.


Different Eyes

It helps to have different eyes on a foray. Yesterday, I took Lee Ann and Brenda (later to adopt the pseudonyms Clavulina and Umbo) on a guided foray, and we found some cool stuff.

M luteopallensThis Mycena luteopallens is a mushroom that specializes in a substrate of walnuts or hickory nuts. It’s worth reading about (click on the link) and looking closer for as you foray in an oak-hickory forest seeking Hens this week. Notice the beautiful symmetry in the way the mushroom arises from the undesurface of the hickory shell like umbrellas gracing a four-poster bed!

Another cool find was a Clavulina cristata, hence the pseudonym. I had seen it at NAMA last weekend so I recognized it immediately.

T alboaterWe found three Tylopilus alboater in a group. This is a beautiful bolete that has an immediate staining reaction on the white pore surface. Color immediately goes to red and then black when touched the least bit.

Brenda’s eyes, as we rode, brought in about 5 pounds of Sparassis crispa, and she also spotted a large Jack O’Lantern cluster. We harvested a couple of Jack specimens, to go along with some Panellue stipticus that we had found, for Clavulina and Umbo to take home and, hopefully, experience bioluminescence.