Biophysics

Going with the flow

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Science  08 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6282, pp. 184-185
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6282.184-a

The shape of the oyster mushroom allows its spores to be carried out, up, and away

PHOTO:© BLICKWINKEL/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Low to the ground and immobile, mushrooms would seem to be physically challenged when it comes to dispersing their spores. Dressaire et al. demonstrate that they make use of their surroundings to propel their progeny out into the world. Water evaporating from the under-surface of the mushroom cap creates a temperature gradient. This produces a flow of air that is enhanced by the tilted orientation of the cap, and ejected spores are carried outward and upward by the breeze. Mushroom clusters help rather than hinder this flow.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113, 2833 (2016).

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