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PLOS Science Wednesday: Hi reddit, my name is Nicholas Money and I published a paper in PLOS ONE which showed mushroom spores act as nuclei for raindrops using environmental electron microscopy – Ask Me Anything!
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Hi Reddit, My name is Nicholas Money. I’m a biologist at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and specialize in the study of fungal growth and reproduction. I am fascinated by the extraordinary mechanisms of spore discharge in these organisms that include high-velocity spurts, exploding gas bubbles, and a catapult that launches mushroom spores. I am the senior author of a 2015 paper in PLOS ONE titled, “Mushrooms as rainmakers: How spores act as nuclei for raindrops”. A couple of years ago I was struck by research by atmospheric chemists that suggested that 50 million tons of fungal spores are ejected into the atmosphere every year. This made me wonder whether the mechanism of drop expansion that powers the discharge of mushroom spores could be reactivated once the spores were airborne. If this happened in clouds, it could play a significant role in the condensation of water and stimulate rainfall. The PLOS ONE paper reports experiments that offer a proof of concept using environmental scanning electron microscopy. This work was co-authored by my doctoral student, Maribeth Hassett, and long-term collaborator Mark Fischer, a physicist at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati. I’ll be answering questions at 1pm ET – Ask Me Anything!