An article published in PNAS

Timing of fungal spore release dictates survival during atmospheric transport

The article "Timing of fungal spore release dictates survival during atmospheric transport", co-written by scientist from INPHYNI, has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United State of America.



Fungi disperse spores to move across landscapes and spore liberation takes different patterns. Many species release spores intermittently; others release spores at specific times of day. Despite intriguing evidence of periodicity, why (and if) the timing of spore release would matter to a fungus remains an open question. Here we use state-of-the-art numerical simulations of atmospheric transport and meteorological data to follow the trajectory of many spores in the atmosphere at different times of day, seasons, and locations across North America. While individual spores follow unpredictable trajectories due to turbulence, in the aggregate patterns emerge: Statistically, spores released during the day fly for several days, whereas spores released at night return to ground within a few hours. Differences are caused by intense turbulence during the day and weak turbulence at night. The pattern is widespread but its reliability varies; for example, day/night patterns are stronger in southern regions. Results provide testable hypotheses explaining both intermittent and regular patterns of spore release as strategies to maximize spore survival in the air. Species with short-lived spores reproducing where there is strong turbulence during the day, for example in Mexico, maximize survival by releasing spores at night. Where cycles are weak, for example in Canada during fall, there is no benefit to releasing spores at the same time every day. Our data challenge the perception of fungal dispersal as risky, wasteful, and beyond control of individuals; our data suggest the timing of spore liberation may be finely tuned to maximize fitness during atmospheric transport.



Timing of fungal spore release dictates survival during atmospheric transport

Daniele Lagomarsino Oneto, Jacob Golan, Andrea Mazzino, Anne Pringle, and Agnese Seminara

PNAS, 2020,



Agnese Seminara,

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