"The greatest amount of life can be supported by great diversification of structure." Charles Darwin

Friday, May 29, 2015

Inoculating bioluminescent mushrooms

Panellus stipticus, also known as bitter oyster, is a bioluminescent fungus. Unlike the other bioluminescent systems, such as fireflies and dinoflagellates, the molecular mechanism of bioluminescence in the fungal lineage is largely unknown. Interestingly, since Panellus stipticus is a white-rot fungus inhabiting hard wood, which contains specialized enzymes that degrade lignin, this species was selected by the Joint Genome Institute for whole genome sequencing through the 1000 Fungal Genomes project. These genomic resources will be very useful when comes to resolve the genetic basis for bioluminescence in Panellus.

This spring we decided to inoculate some logs with Panellus mushroom plug spawn purchased from a mushroom company called Everything Mushrooms.

We followed the procedure for growing shiitake mushrooms, and inoculated a few maple and pear tree logs. According to experience of growing shiitake mushrooms, it will take about a year for the vegetative mycelium to spread throughout the log. Hopefully we'll have mushrooms next spring. Interestingly, the special techniques of inducing the growth of mushroom fruit bodies involve either knocking on wood with a hammer (mimicking tree falling?) or soaking the logs in ice water for 36 hours (mimicking wintering?). Since Massachusetts has very cold winter, these procedures may not be necessary. Fingers crossed. Hopefully we'll get something growing next year. We also gave away an inoculated log to a interested neighbor who walked by as we were doing this.