shiitake mushrooms; photo by apc33 (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

Research in Japan suggests that lightening strikes can significantly increase growth in some popular species of mushroom.

According to a report in National Geographic, sudden bursts of electricity – of the strengths that might occur some distance from where lightning strikes the ground – cause mushrooms to multiply. A direct hit from a lightening bolt would fry a mushroom, but a diffuse jolt sparks a curious response.

The latest results show that lightning-strength jolts of electricity can more than double the yield of certain mushroom species compared with conventional cultivation methods.

–National Geographic

When shiitake and nameko are exposed to ‘50,000 and 100,000 volts for one ten-millionth of a second’ they literally ‘mushroom’ – yielding double in the case of shiitake with an increase of 80% for namekos. Artificial lightening can therefore be very beneficial for the mushroom business in Japan.

It is not yet known just why lightning increases mushroom production, but researcher Yuichi Sakamoto has a theory:

I think they have the need to regenerate before they die, and when they sense lightning, they automatically accelerate their development.

–National Geographic

Nameko and shiitake mushrooms are very popular food sources in Japan, where similar research with ‘lightening machines’ is being conducted on daikon radishes, rapeseed, lilies and beans.