The teensy, luminescent Mycena luxarboricola
mushroom, found recently in Brazil's Atlantic rain forest (pictured, the mushroom in daylight, top, and in the dark) clings to the bark of trees. "When you walk through the forest, the sides of the trees are glowing," San Francisco State's Desjardin said.
The newfound mushroom may help scientists illuminate the purpose of such vibrant displays, an October 2009 study said.
For instance, mushrooms may shine at night to attract nocturnal insects, which pick up spores when they land on the mushrooms—a crucial survival strategy in dense forests with little wind to disperse "offspring," Desjardin said.
Photograph courtesy Cassius V. Stevani, Chemistry Institute, University of Sao Paulo