glowing mushroom/fungal culture

Peter Mullin mullinp at edenbio.com
Thu Jun 12 18:05:20 EST 1997


Neal, 

I know of two species that are bioluminescent: Panellus stipticus (at
least the mycelia of North American isolates "glow in the dark") and
Omphalotus olearius (= O. illudens) (the "Jack-O-Lantern" mushroom).

P. stipticus is a small, non-descript wood-rotter that resembles a small
Pleurotus (although it may well be a "gilled polypore" and not an
agaric). It has a very short, more-or-less lateral stalk and small,
white, allantoid (sausage-shaped) spores.  It has a very bitter taste
(hence the species name).  See page 790 and plate 501 in Lincoff's
Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms.  This fungus is
relatively easy to isolate from stalk or cap tissue and to culture on
malt-extract agar, oatmeal agar, or even potato-dextrose agar.  The
mycelium, in culture, produces light if allowed some air to "breathe"
(and if viewed in a very dark room after your eyes have completely
adjusted).

O. olearius is a fairly large, orange, gilled mushroom (with the gills
runnin a short way down the stalk), often found growing in clusters at
the base of stumps or decayed trees.  It is poisonous and frequently
mistaken for Armillaria and (apparently, though I can't quite figure out
why) chanterelles.  See Lincoff, pages 787-788 and plates 310, 426, and
483.  Omphalotus is also relatively easy to culture on common laboratory
media, but I've never had much success in getting the mycelium to
"glow".

Hope this helps a little.

Peter Mullin
Diagnostic Laboratory
EDEN Bioscience
11816 North Creek Parkway North
Bothell, WA  98011



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