5. Glowing Mushrooms (Mycena lux-coeli mushrooms)
During Japan’s rainy season, a glow-in-the-dark mushroom begins to sprout in Wakayama prefecture. The Mycena lux-coeli mushrooms sprout from fallen chinquapin trees and as they grow, a chemical reaction involving a light-emitting pigment occurs, causing them to glow a ghostly green. The caps can grow to as large as 2 cm (about 1 inch) in diameter, but because the mushrooms are prone to dehydration, they only have a few days to live once the rain stops. Just goes to show you that the curiosities of the world never cease!
4. Hawaiian Bobtail Squid (Euprymna scolopes)
In the darkness of the deep ocean, some animals create their own light. Among these is the Hawaiian bobtail squid Euprymna scolopes, which forms a partnership with the luminous bacterium Vibrio fischeri. The squid houses colonies of these bacteria in special light organs, and it can control the brightness and direction of their illuminations. But these organs do much more than produce light – they detect it too. The organs generate nervous signals when they sense light and they’re loaded with proteins responsible for detecting it. The light organs are effectively an extra set of primitive eyes, each equipped with its own “iris” and “lens”. The squid comes equipped with a pair of living, ‘seeing’ flashlights.
3. Alarm jellyfish (Atolla wyvillei)
Some animals use their bioluminescence to “scream” for help. Once an animal is caught in the clutches of a predator, its only hope for escape may be to attract the attention of something bigger and nastier that may attack and eat whatever is about to eat it. This amazing light show is known as a “burglar alarm” display. The deep-sea jellyfish, Atolla wyvillei, is a master of this display.
2. Jack-O-Lantern mushroom (Omphalotus olearius)
Through metabolic and physiological functions, all living things must produce and ultimately dispose of waste. This fungus exudes its waste through its gills, and some of these wastes are luciferases. Luciferases are enzymes commonly used for bioluminescence (or emission of light by a living organism) such as in fireflies. The Jack o’Lantern mushroom is an orange- to yellow-gill mushroom that to an untrained eye appears similar to some chanterelles.
1. Luminescent Panellus (Panellus stipticus)
Panellus stipticus is a widely distributed, hardwood-rotting saprobe, but it is more common in eastern North America than in the West. It is quite tough, and revives in rainwater after drying out, like many Marasmius species. This little mushroom has reportedly been used as a styptic (blood thickening) agent, and it has luminescent gills.