Research Highlights

Nature 455, 710 (9 October 2008) | doi:10.1038/455710c; Published online 8 October 2008

Biomechanics: Fungal ballistics

PLoS ONE 3, e3237 (2008) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003237

Biomechanics: Fungal ballistics


Some dung-feeding fungi squirt their spores at speeds of up to 25 metres per second. The spores need to travel several metres for herbivores to eat them — because most animals won't graze near their droppings — and thus to continue their life cycles.

The velocities were captured on high-speed video cameras (images right) by Nik Money at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and his colleagues. They showed that the pressure inside the squirt gun cell of several species is similar to that of other fungal tissues. Their study will allow scientists to distinguish models that correctly describe the spore-ejection process.