Nighttime in the Jungle: Bioluminescent Mushrooms

Nighttime in the Jungle

Assisting a researcher based at Danau Girang Field Centre along the lower Kinabatangan River (Sabah, Borneo), we set out on a nighttime frog survey.  We came across many amazing frog species, a few of which you can check out in our blog post here.

Whilst walking along the track, we noticed a very faint glow coming from an area on the forest floor. Upon closer inspection, it turned out that we had stumbled across a patch of bioluminescent fungi!

DSC_1742 copyClick to zoom in

Bioluminescence in Fungi

There are around 80 species of bioluminescent fungi that are currently known worldwide. These bioluminescent fungi emit a greenish light at a wavelength of 520–530 nm. Most are found in temperate and tropical climates.  All but one species are members of the order Agaricales. These are the gilled mushrooms that most of us are familiar with.

The ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of fungi bioluminescence are still not perfectly understood, but you can check out these links for information:


Science Advances Fungi
A 2017 journal article from Science Advances looking at the mechanism of fungi bioluminescence. Click the image to visit the article.


National Geographic Fungi
A video from National Geographic Magazine in which a researcher in Brazil attempts to find out why fungi glow in the dark. Click the image to view the video.

Happy Fungi-spotting!

What a fabulous species to come across on our night walk.

Have you ever seen bioluminescent fungi in your nighttime wanderings?

DSC_1741 copyClick to zoom in

References and Further Reading

National Geographic Magazine – Video: Glow-in-the-Dark Mushrooms: Nature’s Night Lights –
(Retrieved 21 December, 2017)

Science Advances – Journal article: Mechanism and color modulation of fungal bioluminescence by Zinaida M. Kaskova et al. (2017) –
(Retrieved 21 December, 2017)

Wikipedia Website – List of bioluminescent fungus species –
(Retrieved 21 December, 2017)

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Alex Samaras says:

    This is such a cool find, and I’m envious. Nicely spotted. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Alex! It was a pretty exciting find :D. It got me wondering whether or not we have any bioluminescent fungi here in NZ, and it turns out we do: 😀
      We had better get searching!


      Liked by 2 people

      1. Joseph says:

        Hey Emma, I was fortunate this past April to visit Stewart Island to attend the annual FUNNZ fungi foray. While there, a group of us found some more bioluminescent mushrooms! I wrote about it here:

        Liked by 1 person

  2. U Träger says:

    Cool pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank very much!



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