Lightning Makes Mushrooms Multiply
Lightning strikes can more than double some mushroom crops, according to ongoing experiments that are jolting fungi with electricity.
For generations, Japanese farmers have welcomed storms over their fields based on the belief that lightning strikes provoke plentiful harvests of mushrooms, which are staples of Japanese cuisine. (Related: "New Lightning Type Found Over Volcano?")
Currently, mushroom demand is so high that dealers are increasingly turning to foreign suppliers. Japan imports about 50,000 tons of mushrooms a year, mainly from China and South Korea.
As part of a four-year study, scientists in northern Japan have been bombarding a variety of mushrooms in lab-based garden plots with artificially induced lightning to see if electricity actually makes the fungi multiply.