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Type: Journal article
Title: Bioluminescence in the ghost fungus Omphalotus nidiformis does not attract potential spore dispersing insects
Author: Weinstein, P.
Delean, S.
Wood, T.
Austin, A.
Citation: IMA Fungus: the global mycological journal, 2016; 7(2):229-234
Publisher: International Mycological Association
Issue Date: 2016
ISSN: 2210-6340
Statement of
Philip Weinstein, Steven Delean, Tom Wood and Andrew D Austin
Abstract: Bioluminescence has been known from fungi since ancient times, but little work has been done to establish its potential role. There is evidence that some bioluminescent fungi differentially attract potential spore-dispersing insects, and we aimed to establish if this was the case for the ghost fungus, Omphalotus nidiformis (Agaricales,Marasmiaceae), a widespread Australian temperate zone species. We examined three corroborative lines of evidence: circadian rhythmicity of bioluminescence; field-recorded insect abundance at the time of basidiome production; and attractiveness of glowing fungi to flying insects. Basidiomes glowed continuously day and night, and were present in winter (June-July) when insect abundance was low. To assess attractiveness, we deployed sticky-traps in open woodland in the absence of light pollution, in Treatment (baited with fresh bioluminescent O. nidiformis) and Control pairs, for 480 trap-hours on moonless nights. There was no statistical difference in mean insect abundance between Treatment and Control traps (mean 0.33 and 0.54 individuals per trap night, respectively). To interpret these results, we provide a brief review of competing hypotheses for fungal bioluminescence, and conclude that for some fungi, bioluminescence may be an incidental by-product of metabolism rather than conferring any selective advantage. It is possible that the role of bioluminescence differs among evolutionary lineages of fungi and/or with attributes of their growth environments that could affect spore dispersal, such as wind and insect abundance.
Keywords: Agaricales
Kangaroo Island
fungal physiology
insect-fungal interactions
spore dispersal
Rights: © 2016 International Mycological Association
DOI: 10.5598/imafungus.2016.07.02.01
Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 3
Ecology, Evolution and Landscape Science publications

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