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Take the natural phenomenon we call lightning and thundering. For centuries mushroom farmers in Japan have welcomed the sight of lightning bolts and thundering striking their field. For some reasons they claimed these powerful burst of electricity meant a bigger harvest. Were the farmers right?
Researchers in Japan ran test to find out. They seeded logs with mushroom spores and bombarded them with jolts of electricity. A jolt as strong as a direct lightning hit would fry the spores, but as the energy from the strike travels through the ground it gets weaker. So the scientists used weak jolts of electricity about 50,000 volts for one ten millionth of a second. And the results?
Yes, bursts of electricity accompanied by thunder really can make mushrooms grow quicker. Some kinds of mushroom spores have special cells called hyphae that work to produce proteins and enzymes that make the mushroom develop. The jolts of electrical energy seem to excite the hyphae and make them work harder.