Underwater Mushroom Discovered

Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 24th, 2008


Photo by Robert Coffan – The Psathyrella aquatica mushroom, pictured above, was recently discovered by scientists in the Rogue Valley, Oregon.

The Southern Oregon University environmental studies and biology faculty will share their discovery of a new species of mushroom that grows underwater – the first of its kind – in a presentation tomorrow in Ashland, Oregon. The new species is called Psathyrella aquatica.

The multimedia presentation will be given by Robert Coffan, adjunct professor of environmental studies; Jonathan Frank, biology research technician; and Darlene Southworth, professor emerita, biology.

The event begins at 2:30 p.m. with refreshments, and the presentation begins at 3 p.m. in SOU’s room 118 in the science building.

Discovered in 2005 by Coffan, collaborative efforts of his colleagues in the Biology department – Southworth and Frank – verified its uniqueness. The research team has submitted a manuscript to a scientific journal called Mycologia.

“Discovering new habitat for complex organisms such as mushrooms is something you might expect in the Amazon, or along the deep oceanic trenches. But here they are, waiting for us in the Rogue River in Southern Oregon,” Coffan said.

“It’s pretty unbelievable to see a mushroom standing straight up under flowing water,” Southworth added.

Source: “Scientists discover new mushroom species in the Rogue Valley,” Siskiyou Daily, Thursday, January 24, 2008.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

17 Responses to “Underwater Mushroom Discovered”

  1. Ann Unknown responds:

    I wonder, if ALL of the organism’s life cycle is spent under the water? If so, then how does it colonize other ares (assuming that Psathyrella aquatica reproduces in the usual, ‘shroomy way)? Rivers generally flow one way, down hill. How could the spores get back up stream if they are released directly into the water?

    Here’s hoping that the location is kept secret long enough to find out. I lived near there once, long ago. The area is inhabited by a culture of ‘shroom lovers! 😉

  2. LeCope responds:

    How interesting…my old stomping grounds. What a cool little mushroom, from a beautiful part of the U.S.

    Ashland Oregon is an interesting place, a small town right in the thick of Bigfoot country that happens to be the home of the National Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory.

    The Labs role:

    1) to examine, compare and/or identify the species-source of wildlife parts and products for law enforcement purposes;

    2) to match suspect, victim (in our case, an animal) and crime scene together with physical evidence;

    3) to testify as to our examination results in State and Federal Courts throughout the United States in support of Federal and State law enforcement investigations.

    Although they tend to deal with ivory, bear gall bladders and such, I always figured that is where any bigfoot physical evidence, (bodies or parts thereof), would or should be sent for comparative analysis. I’m sure it would take their scientists a mere glance to see through something like “the hand of unknown origin”.

  3. LeCope responds:

    Excellent point Ann. I imagine it must spend some of it’s lifecycle above the water, as you’ve stated, considering the rise and fall of a typical river’s level. If that is the case, I wonder how the dam on the Rogue has affected it’s reproduction by keeping the water level variation under “control”.

    As for mushroom lovers in that area, I spent many a spring hunting Morels all over the hills. Nothing like fresh wild mushrooms for dinner….Mmmm.

  4. Ann Unknown responds:

    spring hunting Morels all over the hills … fresh wild mushrooms for dinner … Mmmm

    Shame on you, LeCope – for making this lo’ lady so homesick for one, among the many life-zones, she once called home! 😉

    Not that these desert mountains aren’t just as generous with their mysteries, – especially after they have make up their minds that you have proven yourself worthy of seeing them. 🙂

  5. red_pill_junkie responds:

    A fitting underwater habitat for the smurfs 🙂

  6. scosmo451 responds:

    Wonder if it’s edible.

    Is it possible it could spread upstream by contact or consumption by fish?

    A ‘shroom under water seems very strange.

  7. kittenz responds:

    I suppose that animals such as deer, etc, that come to drink, or which wade the stream to cross it, may carry spores in ways similar to the way that spores of land mushrooms can be carried by land animals.

    There’s undoubtedly a lot left to learn about this little mushroom.

  8. Saint Vitus responds:

    An underwater mushroom, that is truly amazing! That is almost as weird as when they discovered that poisonous bird in New Guinea a decade or so ago. Sometimes nature is stranger (and much more wonderful in my opinion) than fiction! Makes you wonder what else is out there.

  9. LeCope responds:

    Very interesting indeed…I did some reading and other types of aquatic fungi, Oomycetes (water molds) and
    Chytridiomycetes (unicellular chytrids), actually produce zoospores. What is a zoospore?

    A zoospore is a motile asexual spore utilizing a flagellum for locomotion. Also called a swarm spore, these spores are created by some algae and fungi to propagate themselves.

  10. Ann Unknown responds:


    No, sadly, it doesn’t make me feel better. 🙁
    SOMEONE needs to be up there enjoying all those beautiful, fresh, wild mushrooms. If for no other reason than for the sake of the rest of us morely deprived individuals stranded down here. 😉

  11. LeCope responds:

    Such great questions! Here is what I’ve come up with…In my own words.

    Evidently, the scientists that went out to study these little fellows have eliminated the possibility that the fungi were simply submerged by rising water levels. They were found in a consistently flowing area of the river, and had been in the same place for more than three months. Although there are other forms of fungi that live in freshwater, these are the first found that actually have gills, like their terrestrial counterparts. My guess is that they do in fact produce zoospores due to the mention of the spore bursts having a sticky quality. However more research will be needed to find out their actual reproduction method.

    Are the toxic? I’ve read that some of the terrestrial mushrooms in the same genus are in fact edible. Currently it is unknown about these little guys, however there seems to be no reason why they should be toxic.


  12. cryptidsrus responds:

    SCOSMO451—I was wondering the same thing.


  13. Artist responds:

    Oregon’s beautiful Rogue Valley, stretching from Ashland near the CA/OR border to a few miles north of Grants Pass (See Google Maps for Medford OR), is home to many mysteries!

    Bisected by the powerful Rogue River (River Wild was filmed downstream), buffered all around by rugged Coastal Range forested mounts, this dynamic area features Bigfoot’s seasonal migratory route, a steeply-walled Pass, tumbling rapids, UFO visits, a disturbing Mystery Spot, huge salmon, Hell’s Canyon, cougar, bear, invisible night-flying screamers and a wild assortment of cryptids… so an underwater mushroom doesn’t surprise me a bit.

    I miss Rogue River.

  14. mystery_man responds:

    Interesting topic going on here. I’m no botanist, but I do know that many plants employ sometimes complex methods of pollination and getting their spores or seeds out there. For instance, some plant life relies on animals to ingest the seeds and deposit them in other areas through their feces. Perhaps something similar happens with the spores of this curious little mushroom? Maybe fish or other aquatic life help to facilitate the spread of the mushrooms spores up stream? Or as Kittenz says, perhaps land animals play a role to some degree? Who knows, part of their life-cycle could employ processes that are as unique as these mushrooms are themselves. I have enjoyed the comments by LeCope and Ann Unknown!

  15. Richard888 responds:

    Fascinating story!

    Who knows? Maybe it is eaten by crayfish and/or other critters that carry its spores in all directions, including upstream.

  16. plant girl responds:

    This is facinating. If a mushroom can grow under water then anything is possible.

  17. Artist responds:

    Y’know, there’s otters in Oregon, and maybe they…

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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