THE FASTEST FLIGHT IN NATURE: Set to the joyful crescendo of Verdi’s Anvil Chorus.

THE FASTEST FLIGHT IN NATURE: Set to the joyful crescendo of Verdi’s Anvil Chorus.

High-Speed Spore Discharge Mechanisms among Fungi: The fungus Pilobolus kleinii, lives a shitty life. Literally growing on dung, it must fling its spores as far out as possible to land on fresh grass where it can get eaten by a herbivore to complete its life cycle.

• Researchers used ultra-high-speed video cameras running at maximum frame rates of 250,000 fps to analyze the launch process. Launch speeds ranged from 2 to 25 m s−1 and corresponding accelerations of 20,000 to 180,000 g propelled spores over distances of up to 2.5 meters.

Squirt Guns: Spores sit atop long fluid filled stalks that are pressurized by osmosis. Hydrostatic pressure was generated by the combined osmolality of sugar alcohols and inorganic ions. Up to 100 mM of these osmolytes generate a turgor pressure of0.44 MPa or 4.4 atm. These are not unusual pressures for fungi, but the remarkable engineering ensures controlled and rapid rupture of the pressurized squirt guns that allow the nearly instantaneous release of energy and discharge of the spores.

• This video shows a montage of the fungus’s amazing launches set to Verdi’s Anvil Chorus.

For some prurient Pilobolus porn see Ballistic fungus Pilobolus crystallinus


This entry was posted in Rajini Rao. Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to THE FASTEST FLIGHT IN NATURE: Set to the joyful crescendo of Verdi’s Anvil Chorus.

  1. mary Zeman says:

    amazing- I love to see the secrets of nature like this

  2. That’s huge propulsion!

  3. Norman M. says:

    Thanks! I thought fungi just lay there and grow slowly.

  4. Rajini Rao says:

    Good morning, dear Kimberly Brosnan The 2 min vid will fill you with joy 🙂 The bursting of spores is timed perfectly with the chorus. I felt like cheering! Watch it when you have the time.

  5. Ian Netto says:

    More info on that fungi here The Fastest Living Thing on the Planet! It’s part of a BBC documentary called “Richard Hammond’s Invisible Worlds”. Highly recommended viewing.

  6. Chad Haney says:

    I can’t wait for Feisal Kamil . Nice money shot Rajini Rao Seriously that’s very cool.

  7. Rajini Rao says:

    That’s an awesome documentary, Ian Netto , thanks for the share! Norman Ma , the invisible world is fascinating is it not?

  8. As adaptations go, this one’s pretty badass.

  9. Rajini Rao says:

    LOL, Chad Haney , I’m adapting my posts slightly for a certain person’s funny bone 😉

  10. OMG, the penultimate treasure of treasures!

    Thank you so very much Rajini 🙂

  11. Wesley Yeoh says:

    wow who knew osmosis could build up that much pop

  12. Rajini Rao says:

    Wesley Yeoh , you’ve made me think of all the ways plants use osmosis: to open their transpiration pores (stomata) under their leaves, open buds, hmm..

  13. Wesley Yeoh says:

    incredible how nature’s tiny hydraulic systems can be put to so many uses ^^

  14. Rajini Rao says:

    Very cool info..will check it out. Thanks, Rashid Moore 🙂

  15. wow its so diferent thanks 4 shering.

  16. wow it somting differant.

  17. daniel wyatt says:

    I ‘tawt oy ‘ta a Puddy MAOI inhibitor…I ‘tawt, I did. Tweety bird, in psych class.

  18. Rajini Rao says:

    daniel wyatt , was that intended for the Le Mao post? 🙂

  19. Rajini Rao says:

    Since you omitted to provide a reference (tsk, Peter Lindelauf :), I found this: . In it, they reference one Hawksworth who made the estimates for initial velocity of mistletoe seeds from simulations done in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

    But, thanks for bringing up ballistic seed dispersal by plants which is pretty amazing! The mechanism depends on dessication of the seed pod, the antithesis of the water-propelled flight of the fungal spores. I found this gem that you may enjoy: For sheer ballistic verve, we look to another tropical plant, one that is also cultivated in South Florida.It is Hura crepitans, the sandbox tree of the Euphorbiaceae.It has capsules the size and shape of tangerines.Each fruit has many segments, just as does a tangerine, and each fruit segment contains a seed the size of a nickel.When the fruits burst open, they shoot their seeds nearly 150 feet,accompanied by an explosive noise that is said to sound like the discharge of a rifle!

    This article was an interesting read for more dramatics:

  20. Rajini Rao says:

    Correction, Peter Lindelauf , you are The Reference 🙂 That said, we academics are gluttons for the pain and punishment of peer review:

  21. Rajini Rao says:

    Now, if only you could post a pix of Patchy and the bushes when you have a chance, Peter Lindelauf , I will be forever armed with, and protected by humor, the next time I am assaulted by the Peer Review Club (using both meanings of the word club). Not necessary to show him in action, I hasten to add.

  22. Rajini Rao says:

    This post has gone to dogs. Literally. See


  23. Norman M. says:

    Yes, you never know how crowd responding neuron firings will take conversation after a while. It is a great post!

  24. Rajini Rao says:

    Norman Ma and Peter Lindelauf : If you can’t win them, join them

  25. Chad Haney says:

    There was a post this morning about someone ranting about going off topic. I must be lucky with the people in my circles because I (so far) have not been annoyed when my posts drift; boy can they drift.

  26. Rajini Rao says:

    Too late, Peter Lindelauf ! Animals have arrived 🙂

  27. Rajini Rao says:

    My favorite story re. Animals was the pig debacle. Here is one report: Pink Floyd – Pigs (Rare Report, 1977)

    There is another version I’m looking for with band members describing it….

  28. Chad Haney says:

    Did someone mention Feisal Kamil ? He must be sleeping. So since Rajini Rao brought up balloons, pretend this is from Mr. Kamil. Slightly NSFW.

    Parade balloon Pawel Althamer

    Wait til Feisal wakes up to his demerit. he he.

  29. Chad Haney says:

    You mean channeling.

  30. Rajini Rao says:

    Good morning, Feisal Kamil . I hope you have come to restore order to the rabble. Certain things have been inflated all out of proportion.

  31. Chad Haney says:

    Good morning Feisal Kamil I’m no longer responsible for R-rated material on this thread :D.

  32. Chad Haney says:

    I turn WiFi and 3G off unless I need something from the interwebs.

  33. Chad Haney says:

    Out of proportion? You mean it wasn’t anatomically correct?

  34. Rajini Rao says:

    Oh well, perhaps they ran out of hot air at the crucial point. I’ve heard that can happen. Edit:

  35. Chad Haney says:

    Wait are we talking about pigs in the wind?

  36. Rajini Rao says:

    According to the junk mail, right? Of course, pigs, Chad Haney , whatever else?

  37. Rajini Rao says:

    +100 ♥ Gnotic Pasta ♥

  38. Rajini Rao says:

    Same here..especially when it is slightly bitter.

  39. Rajini Rao says:

    Wow, would not have thought of coconut milk as jam. (I do eat eggs baked into things). Is condensed milk big in Malaysia?

  40. Chad Haney says:

    Bitter marmalade and ginger preserve from Dundee I think. Walking my dog be back after dinner. 🙂

  41. Apparently the first passenger in a hot air balloon was not a dog, but a pig. Teehee.

  42. As I managed to tie in 4 off topics in a sentence, I am off to get some coffee.

  43. Bonjour, Feisal Kamil! Humor wakes me up even more.

  44. Closer to lunch here in France, Feisal Kamil I am baking bread, and I need that bread ready for lunch (grilled cheese sandwiches). Looking forward to the story.

  45. Norman M. says:

    Future news: Google+ celebrity home guarded by Explosive Fungi (EF), fueled by French War Dog droppings. Aerial survalence by hot balloon piggies!

  46. Rajini Rao says:

    Whichever, as long as there is no ballistic spore dispersal in progress.

  47. Rajini Rao says:

    Sounds like a fascinating series, Feisal Kamil ! Next on the list, I think.

  48. daniel wyatt says:

    Rajini- again, fascinating aspect of our world..I’m particularly interested in the natural engineering that allows not only the spore to survive these accelerations and airodynamic forces, but the strength of the structure of the propelling apparatus. Just amazing, thank you.

  49. Jim Knyght says:

    “Spore Wars,” music: Festival Overture in E flat major, Op. 49, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky; My personal title and score choice for this epic video.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s