Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lightning spawns mushroom

Abe V Rotor
Wild mushrooms are plentiful during
the rainy months, and are often sold
in the local market.

It's a folktale, but it's true. Lightning (and thunder) spawn mushrooms.

In the province, it is a tradition to go hunting for mushrooms in bamboo groves, on anthills, under rice hay and banana stalks during the monsoon season, specifically after a period of heavy thunder and lightning. And what do you know?

Old folks are right as they show you the prize - baskets full of Volvariella (rice hay or banana mushroom), Plerotus (abalone mushroom), Auricularia (tainga ng daga), and a host of other wild mushroom species.

Where did the mushrooms come from?

When lightning strikes, nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) combines to form nitrate (NO3). Nitrogen in the atmosphere is 78 percent, while oxygen is 21 percent. Scientists call this process fixation or specifically for nitrogen, nitrification.

Nitrate, which is soluble in water, is washed down by rain and absorbed mainly by plants. It fertilizes not only fields and pastures, but rivers and lakes as well. In fact the seas and oceans - leading to rapid growth of algae and plankton organisms, consequently all forms of life participating in food chains, which in turn form into a web of life in the ecosystem. Collectively and ultimately, the whole living world.

This explains the rejuvenation of the living world, particularly during habagat or monsoon season.

Lightning - Nature's way of replenishing nutrients is similarly responsible in the fixation of other elements such as sulfur, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, including trace elements of Bo, Zn, Mn, Mg, Fe and the like, into forms available for use by plants and other organisms. Lightning unlocks the elements and their compounds stored in Nature's chest, to be transformed by living things from inorganic to organic compounds.

Lightning occurs every second - or any fraction of it - on any place on earth. While slower processes take place such as composting of farm residues, and the biological action of Rhizobium and cyanophytes (blue-green algae), it is lightning that contributes most, direct and fast, in maintaining the earth’s supply of these and other life-giving compounds.

Not only green plants benefit from these natural fertilizers, but also phytoplankton (microscopic one-celled plants) - and the lowly mushroom whose vegetative stage is some unassuming downy mass of mycelia enmeshed in decomposing media such as plant residues. With nitrate and other nutrients now available, coupled with favorable conditions of the environment, this saprophyte and its kind transform into their reproductive phase. This is the umbrella-like mushroom we are familiar with. In all its luxuriance and plenty, it is not unusual to discover clusters or hills of mushrooms in just a single spot.

Scientists believe that without lightning, our earth would be an impoverished planet, barely supporting the diversity and density of living things that we enjoy today. While lightning kills and destroys, it is on the other hand, the key to life and balance of the biosphere.~

Living with Folk Wisdom, UST-AVR

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