Can Mushroom Spores survive in space and other harsh climates?
Mushrooms can be quite resilient on Earth, growing in climates one would not suspect for a life form that often relies on lots of water. But can mushrooms maintain that resilience in outer space.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the resilience of mushroom spores and fungi, and how certain types of mushroom spores can survive in unusual environments.
At Shaman Mushroom Spores, we understand the incredible interest that many people have in Psilocybin Mushroom Spores and Psilocybe Cubensis Spores. However, it’s worth noting that psychedelic mushroom spores, especially Psilocybin spores, are only legal to study and not consume in the United States. We sell Mushroom Spores via Shaman Mushroom Spores for the purpose of personal microscopy research.
The short answer: Yes, in some scenarios and with a bit of help. To better understand how mushrooms survive in harsh climates, let’s break down the basics.
What are Mushroom Spores?
Mushroom spores are best thought of as the seeds of the fungus world. This is a remark that may surprise some people because fungi are sometimes wrongly thought of as a form of a plant rather than an altogether independent branch of Earth life. Spores are extremely resilient. They can travel large distances and wait for a chance to develop. This is important because they reproduce by sending their spores out into the wind to land somewhere else, thus delicate spores that perished quickly would be useless.
The mycelium, which is the fungus’ primary body, grows to fill as much of the accessible substrate as possible as part of its lifecycle. Because the mycelium has already attempted to colonize the nearby region, finding new ground to inoculate becomes more difficult.
“Mold has been found growing on the walls of the International Space Station (ISS), revealing its natural presence in the spacecraft habitat“
To understand how mushroom spores could survive in space, it helps to understand how fungi can survive in the harshest parts of our own planet. Some types of fungus and truffles that have been used as food and medicine since ancient times thrive in harsh desert environments in Arizona, the United States, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
The Desert Shaggy Mane, or Podaxis pistillaris, is one such fungus that can withstand the severe conditions of Earth’s deserts. It flourishes in Australia’s and other nations’ deserts and semi-deserts. It is also commonly found along roadsides and in disturbed areas on the drier sides of the Hawaiian Islands, particularly in the Kona area of Hawaii and the Kihei area of Maui. Many desert tribes in Australia used it to darken white hair in elderly men’s beards and for body painting. Due to its widespread presence in drier parts of Australia, the fungus was likely utilized by numerous desert Aborigines.
The hygroscopic earthstar, or Astraeus hygrometricus, is often found in the Upland Sonoran Desert and in chaparral habitats. The star’s thick outer cortex can withstand the elements for several years, making it one of the hardiest mushroom strains out there.
In the arid, hard desert, there are even more mushrooms that can survive. Locals often look for desert truffles along the North African coast from Morocco to Egypt, as well as further east over the immense desert plain from Damascus, Syria, to Basra, Iraq. From late January to early April, desert truffles can be found in these desert regions. These truffles can be found in either a mycorrhizal connection with Helianthemum sp. or without any mycorrhizal association at all.
The Resilience of Fungi
Chitin, the same substance that makes up the hard outer shells of insects and other arthropods, is used by fungi to create cell walls. Many types of insect wings, as well as the feathers of some birds, contain compounds comparable to those found in these cell walls.
In every level of the earth’s atmosphere, living spores have been discovered and collected. Mushroom spores are electron-dense, allowing them to live in space’s vacuum. Furthermore, its outer layer is metallic and purple in color, allowing the spore to naturally reflect UV radiation. As if all of this wasn’t unusual enough, the spore’s outer shell is the toughest organic substance on the planet.
Mushrooms are a mystery in the world of the living. They are very resilient and adaptable, and they account for almost a quarter of all biomass on the globe. Their spores have been discovered in the higher regions of our atmosphere, towards the edge of space, raising the question of whether mushroom spores may live in space. Let’s have a look at some of the research that has been done to establish the hardiness of mushrooms in space.
Can Mushroom Spores Survive in Space?
Humans can carry mold and other fungi with them everywhere they go on Earth. Some of such fungal varieties, such as gut bacteria are necessary for good health. Others are just along for the ride. Even the cleanest environments, such as medical facilities and labs, are teeming with microbial life. The International Space Station is no exception.
For a long time, astronauts have been tracking the presence of bacteria in space. They must ensure that their space habitat is safe and does not harbor hazardous microbiological organisms. However, the health and fertility of such germs can teach researchers a lot about how living things, from bacteria to fungi to humans, react to the harsh environment of space in a variety of ways.
Marta Corteso, a microbiologist at the German Aerospace Center, has discovered that two forms of mold can withstand radiation dosages that would kill a person hundreds of times over. Her findings were presented at the Astrobiology Science Conference in Seattle on June 28th, 2019. While shielding as thin as 0.4mm of metal can help protect such spores from space radiation, fungi overall are quite resilient to the environment beyond our atmosphere.
“Mold has been found growing on the walls of the International Space Station (ISS), revealing its natural presence in the spacecraft habitat,“ Cortesão’s research study reads, “If these spores are able to withstand space radiation they might unintentionally contaminate other planets during exploration and colonization missions. To understand if fungal spores are able to survive space travel, these were exposed to different kinds of radiation: UV, X-ray and heavy ions. This study found that fungal spores are able to withstand higher doses of radiation than previously thought, possibly surviving space travel, if considering the radiation factor alone.”
While this research is certainly interesting, there has been additional research that supports the notion that very few types of fungi are able to survive in space for very long. Mushrooms and other microbes were pitted against simulated variables found in space in a study conducted by Gerda Horneck, David M. Klaus, and Rocco L. Mancinelli in 2010. Microgravity, radiation, and a vacuum were among the variables. When exposed to alien solar UV radiation, fungal spores and other microbes did not live long, according to the research.
“In general, microorganisms tend to thrive in the space flight environment in terms of enhanced growth parameters and a demonstrated ability to proliferate in the presence of normally inhibitory levels of antibiotics,” the study reads, “The survival of microorganisms in outer space was investigated to tackle questions on the upper boundary of the biosphere and on the likelihood of interplanetary transport of microorganisms. It was found that extraterrestrial solar UV radiation was the most deleterious factor of space. Among all organisms tested, only lichens (Rhizocarpon geographicum and Xanthoria elegans) maintained full viability after 2 weeks in outer space, whereas all other test systems were inactivated by orders of magnitude.”
The majority of microorganisms were found to be non-viable after spending more than two weeks in space, with lichens being the lone exception. Given that human-made rockets take many days to reach the nearest celestial body and months to reach the nearest planet, mushroom spores would not be able to live in deep for any length of time.
The study also noted that when shielded against solar UV, spores of such microorganisms were able to survive in the expanse of space for nearly six years. Specifically, clay and meteorite powder were considered to be excellent solar UV shields. Ultimately, the study found that interplanetary transfer of such microorganisms, including fungal spores, would be significantly more possible within meteorites.
To answer our initial question: Yes, some fungal spores can survive in space and withstand radiation that could otherwise destroy life. However, shielding techniques and the use of artificial meteorites are what ultimately make it possible. Mushroom spores really are quite fascinating!
Don’t forget to stop by Shaman Mushroom Spores to shop our line of Psilocybe Cubensis Mushroom Spore Syringes and Mushroom Spore Syringes for sale. We have new stock all the time and enjoy showcasing the rarest varieties of Psychedelic Mushroom Spores.