Japanese farmer folklore proved true, lightning does multiply mushrooms

Japanese farmer folklore proved true, lightning does multiply mushrooms

A study shows that tasty shiitake mushrooms almost double in number once given an electric shock
shiitake mushrooms, lightning strike

A four-year study by Iwate University in northern Japan has revealed that stories from Japanese farming folklore of plentiful mushrooms following lucky lightning strikes may actually be true.

Mushrooms are a staple of the Japanese diet, so much so that each year 50,000 tons of them are imported to the country. Of these, shiitake, rich in vitamin D, are the most popular. The study of 10 kinds of mushrooms found that eight of them, including shiitake, would multiply to up to double the amount once given high voltage electronic pulses.

shiitake mushrooms, lightning strikeShiitake mushrooms are a fundamental part of the Japanese diet.The scientists found that if they struck mushrooms directly with electricity equivalent to a lightning strike, they would unsurprisingly burn. But if the surrounding soil were struck, so that the mushrooms recieved 50,000-100,000 volts for one ten-millionth of a second, production of enzymes and proteins increased, yielding up to double the amount of 'shrooms.

The researchers at Iwate's Biotechnology Reseach Center, Koichi Takaki and Yuichi Sakamoto, believe commercially available technology is a possibility, so perhaps households with green-fingered inhabitants could one day be shooting mini-lightning bolts into their gardens.


Robert Michael Poole is a specialist on the Japanese music and entertainment scene.

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