A recent paper has revealed yet another ecological function fungal spores may provide, other than the passing of genetic information to subsequent generations. Maribeth Hassett and her team found that airborne spores released from higher fungi can actually kick start the cohesion of water vapor into water droplets on a massive scale. These fungal structures have been present in Earth’s atmosphere for over a billion years, and until now, may have been unknowingly driving rain events.
The findings of this paper have serious ecological implications, especially during this present, anthropogenic time where more random weather patterns are predicted to ensue. It’s important to note that other biological aerosols like plant spores from lower plants and plant pollen from higher plants also may act on the atmosphere. Along with the millions of tonnes of fungal spores that make it to our atmosphere, these structures may have a significant function; the condensation of water in clouds and the growth of raindrops. It is pretty incredible that mushrooms, the organisms that depend on rain so much, may be indirectly enhancing rainfall events, by acting as a nucleus for raindrops. With the mushroom season right on our doorstep, it is simply fascinating to comprehend the positive feedback at play. The more undisturbed forest ecosystems we have, the more fruiting fungus you will find. With more mushrooms fruiting, more spores are produced, which may help enhance rainfall, which further increases the formation of fungi. Remember, for the next time a raindrop falls on your face, there’s a good chance you can thank our favorite organisms living from the forest floor.Read more at Forest Floor Narrative