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