Mushrooms found to keep themselves cooler than their surroundings

A team of molecular biologists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, working with a colleague from the University of Puerto Rico, has found that fungi keep themselves cooler than their surroundings. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes how they discovered the cooling nature of fungi by accident and what they learned about them after testing.

Anecdotal evidence has suggested that mushrooms tend to be cooler than the environment around them. In this new effort, the researchers have found such reports to be accurate. In their paper, they describe how one of their team members was out testing a new thermal camera while isolating at home during the early days of the pandemic.

At some point, he ventured into the nearby woods and began capturing images of the plants growing there. As he did so, he noticed that the mushrooms growing on trees or among the vegetation all showed up as images that were colder than their surroundings.

Intrigued by his finding, he and his colleagues decided to take a closer look. They imaged more mushrooms and tracked the temperature differences they found. In so doing, they found differences among the mushrooms ranging from 1.4 to 5.9°C colder than their surroundings—on average, they were 2.9 ± 1.4 °C colder than the air surrounding them.

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