Mushroom Thunder

Heard of magic mushrooms? Here’s some mushroom magic!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Japanese mushroom farmers know the sound of thunder means good luck! Why? Thunderstorms lead to bushels of mushrooms! Not just any ol’ rainstorm — specifically thunderstorms. Is this science, or superstition?

Koichi Takaki and his team at Iwate University in Japan investigated. Keying off the old farmer’s legend, Takaki built a lightning machine! Like a taser, it produces high voltage pulses, simulating a weak lightning strike. 

The crew made spore cultures in logs and sawdust — places mushrooms love to nest. Then they zapped the cultures with lightning periodically to see how the mushrooms would grow.

Results? A veritable mushroom-storm! The voltage led to massive improvement in mushroom yields! 

This is huge news for mushroom farmers! Takaki’s research will help local farmers grow bumper crops — all thanks to their local legends!

Hmmm…maybe they could invent a cake-pop growing machine too? Or does lightning not strike twice….?