Mushrooms use convectively created airflows to disperse their spores

Emilie Dressaire, Lisa Yamada, Boya Song, Marcus Roper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thousands of basidiomycete fungal species rely on mushroom spores to spread across landscapes. It has long been thought that spores depend on favorable winds for dispersal - that active control of spore dispersal by the parent fungus is limited to an impulse delivered to the spores to carry them clear of the gill surface. Here we show that evaporative cooling of the air surrounding the pileus creates convective airflows capable of carrying spores at speeds of centimeters per second. Convective cells can transport spores from gaps that may be only 1 cm high and lift spores 10 cm or more into the air. This work reveals howmushrooms tolerate and even benefit from crowding and explains their high water needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2833-2838
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - Mar 15 2016


  • Basidiomycete
  • Evaporation
  • Fungi
  • Gravity current
  • Spore dispersal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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