If you thought that bioluminescence occurs only in the water, think again! During the last of the summer months, you might encounter what looks like an eerie and faint glow from the forests spanning across the world. This is where bioluminescent mushrooms will sprout on the branches of moist and rotting trees. This is known by the name ‘Foxfire’.
Bioluminescence could be defined as the light which is created by any living organism. The bioluminescent ability of the firefly is perhaps, one of the most commonly known phenomenons across the world. The firefly will light up its abdomen as a signal to potential mates during its mating season.
There have been a lot of examples over the world where bioluminescent fungus has been reported to be found in the forests. The difference is that bioluminescent light will be different from the light of a light bulb or a candle. This would mean that there is very little radiation of heat in such cases.
This light is known to be an impending result of a sort of biochemical reaction which is caused by the oxidation of Luciferin and its reaction gets catalyzed by Luciferase, which is an enzyme.
In Rewind Mode:
Luminous wood was perhaps first reported by Aristotle in his writings as early as 382 BC. The next record of luminous wood was found in the literature of Robert Boyle who said that he had noticed that the earth was showing signs of glowing and what had startled him was the fact that the light did not bring heat along with it.
Most of these early observers believed that this light was a product of animal interactions or small insects.
The first time when the fungi got associated with the luminosity was in the year 1823, when Bishoff noted that the light was emitted due to fungus that was present on the wood. He noticed this when he was doing a study on luminous timbers which were being used as a means of support in the mines. This report was said to pave the path for further studies by scientists; and more studies began by Fabre. Fabre is said to have established the absolute parameters of bioluminescent fungi –
- The light is without heat
- The light will cease in a vacuum, carbon dioxide and hydrogen
- The light is known to exist independent of temperature, humidity, light
- The light will not burn any better with pure oxygen
The work which is done by Herring in the year 1978 threw light on further details about how and when this bioluminescence worked.
Where can it be found?
Foxfire is said to be witnessed all over the world, but it known to be more common in the tropics. Moist forests of the tropics are known to encourage the growth of such fungi. There have been some newer varieties of these glow-in-the-dark versions of mushrooms and these were introduced to the outside world after they were collected at the Ribeira Valley Tourist State Park which is located close to Sao Paulo in Brazil.
If you really wish to see one of these in person, then we’d suggest you begin looking for them in the wettest of all seasons and you’d have to move towards the inside of the jungle and keep away from any sort of light sources which might dim the faint glow.