A picture of a Pilobolus crystallinus

Pilobolus crystallinus

Pilobolus crystallinus

Pilobolus crystallinus 002 by Keisotyo (CC BY-SA 4.0)

More images of Pilobolus crystallinus

Pilobolus crystallinus (F.H. Wigg.) Tode 1013949
A photo of Pilobolus crystallinus
A photo of Pilobolus crystallinus

Pilobolus crystallinus Overview

The Pilobolus genus holds the 'excretion-loving' fungi, which means they are most likely found growing in or on top of herbivore dung. The life cycle of these mushrooms is quite extraordinary. It begins as a small sporangium, which is a structure that contains the fungal spores. The sporangium sits in the grass until it's eaten unknowingly by a horse or some cattle. The sporangium remains inactive throughout its journey through the gut, and amazingly, it's able to survive its passage through the stomachs fluids. It emerges within the excrement of the host before germinating and sprouts out of the dung-pile. Once emerged, the fungus draws up liquid from the earth, and eventually, the pressure build-up causes its spores to shoot out at lightning speed. In a quick experimental video filmed by Earth Unplugged, they demonstrate the spore's acceleration, which is faster than a bullet from a gun.