May
28
2009

Mmm, fungus-y

I knew there was a reason not to eat mushrooms. I mean, they are rubbery and weirdly tasteless. And they are funguses. Fungi? Whatev. Me grammarian am not. Wanna hear a HILARIOUS joke? So a mushroom walks into a bar, and the bartender says, “We don’t serve your kind here,” and the mushroom says, “Why not? I’m a fungi!” Get it? It’s funny because mushrooms don’t talk! Whew, good one Elana. But anyway, besides the obvious fact that mushrooms are gross, scientists have figured out why ingesting Russula Subnigricans can lead to convulsions, nausea, impaired speech, and even death! BUM BUM BUMMMMM (That is ominous mood music, FYI).

Okay, so we already knew that you weren’t supposed to eat these mushrooms. And there are all sorts of poisonous mushrooms, but Russula Subnigricans mushrooms, which are found in China and North America, contain a toxin which leads to the breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, called rhabdomyolysis, which is uncommon in poisonous mushrooms. So basically, they’ll kill you in a completely new way. Awesome.

The cause of this muscular breakdown was a little tricky for scientists to isolate. The compound likes to bind to other things, and previous research done on the toxin was actually done on misclassified mushrooms. Which, of course, was not helpful.

The discovery and isolation of this toxic compound, cycloprop-2-ene carboxylic acid, is pretty cool for two reasons. It’s never been found in the natural world before, although it is used for building other compounds synthetically. But perhaps more importantly, many mushrooms that produce toxic compounds also produce beneficial compounds. Which means that pretty soon, we could be reading about the wonderful new drug that comes from a compound in Russula Subnigricans. Or something.

So I guess you can keep eating those Shitake mushrooms (bonus: super fun to say), but watch out for skeletal muscle tissue breakdown. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options