Leratiomyces ceres found today under an English Oak. This species is an indicator of Psilocybe spp. among other less interesting species (Agrocybe spp. and Psathyrella spp.)

Spotted today after the rain

End of the semester for a lot of folks, so time for my regular reminder: your mental and physical health are more important than school

(I originally wrote this up to share my research with my non-scientific friends and family and realized it fits well within the scope of my blog so here you go)

In most phylogenetic studies, the ultimate goal is to construct a tree that accurately reflects evolutionary relationships between species. We used to do this by entirely comparing anatomy, but once DNA sequencing was introduced, things were revealed to be more complicated than we could have anticipated. In the beginnings of DNA sequencing, we were pretty limited in how much we could sequence. People would sequence a single gene and be pretty pumped about their phylogenetic tree. But with advances in sequencing, we learned that the phylogenetic tree created from a single gene merely reflects the history of that gene, not necessarily the species themselves – each gene has its own evolutionary history. So folks were like, okay, we’ll just get a few more genes and maybe a phylogenetic signal will emerge, a consensus between gene trees, thus giving us the true species tree.

Then there’s my project. We sequenced 962 gene regions – surely such an absurd amount of genes that would tell us a relatively clear story of evolutionary history? But it hasn’t. It’s an absolute mess. There is a profound amount of disagreement between all of the genes, each telling a conflicting story about what happened in the past. And I am fascinated with this mess. I looked into this group of species because we suspected hybridization, and this mess of gene histories further supports that – maybe the reason there are so many mixed signals is because we’re not getting genes that have stayed with a single species throughout time, maybe they’ve have been passed between species.

Anyway, I am super super pumped. I’ve wrapped up the project for the purposes of the class I’m doing it for, but I am absolutely going to push further. This is so much more exciting to me than a clean and tidy phylogenetic tree!

elephantbitterhead:

fungusqueen:

An ode to Amanita Muscaria. Pictures are mine from the January 2019 Santa Cruz Fungus Fair. I recommend reading this article titled “A Study of Cultural Bias in Field Guide Determinations of Mushroom Edibility Using the Iconic Mushroom, Amanita muscaria, as an Example”

From the abstract of the paper mentioned above: “Mushroom field guides, however, almost universally label
the mushroom as poisonous. We discuss the cultural underpinnings and literary form of
mushroom field guides and demonstrate that they work within a mostly closed intellectual
system that ironically shares many of the same limitations of cultural bias found in traditional
folk cultures, but with the pretense of being modern and scientific.” 

I had never thought about field guides in this light, but having now had it pointed out, it seems obviously correct. 

New information is always coming to light in mycology. Historically, it was common knowledge that the correct method to safely consume Amanita muscaria was by parboiling (this method should not be applied to other mushroom species as Amanita muscaria’s toxins, ibotenic acid and muscimol, are water soluble and can be removed during the process while other mushrooms contain non-water soluble toxins that cannot be removed). But over time, this information has been purposely excluded from field guides, due to cultural bias, however untrue. The article goes into more detail!

An ode to Amanita Muscaria. Pictures are mine from the January 2019 Santa Cruz Fungus Fair. I recommend reading this article titled “A Study of Cultural Bias in Field Guide Determinations of Mushroom Edibility Using the Iconic Mushroom, Amanita muscaria, as an Example”

microcosmicobservations:

I’m presenting my project in a week to the department, and I am so jazzed because I came up with the best title: The Hairy Hybrid History of Vagabond Varieties

I’m presenting my project in a week to the department, and I am so jazzed because I came up with the best title: The Hairy Hybrid History of Vagabond Varieties

Coral Fungi table at the 2019 Humboldt Bay Mycological Society Mushroom Fair

DIY displays at the 2019 Humboldt Bay Mycological Society Mushroom Fair