Host, Stephen Wood and Dr Anne Pringle, a mycologist and botanist, tell the story of the Amanita Phalloides mushroom. This is not a mushroom native to the United States, but it has found its way there in an unsuspecting way, cork trees. These cork trees were imported for use by California wineries but they had a stowaway, the Amanita Phalloides or death cap mushroom. Death caps are toxic mushrooms that kill both humans as well as domestic pets when consumed. These toxic mushrooms resemble several edible species (most notably Caesar's mushroom and the straw mushroom) commonly consumed by humans, increasing the risk of accidental poisoning. Amatoxins, the class of toxins found in these mushrooms, are thermostable: and thus they resist changes due to heat, which means their toxic effects are not reduced by cooking. Signs and symptoms start with an initially self-limiting gastrointestinal illness, that later can result in liver and renal failure and death.

The conversation led to a discussion on how to safely collect mushrooms as well as resources to help medical providers and gatherers alike to identify mushrooms. Just as important was a discussion on how we as healthcare providers and environmentalists can prevent invasive species infestations through local action.

Mushroom Observer:


Mushroom Expert:

Guest Bio:

Anne Pringle was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and spent her childhood travelling through Southeast Asia and West Africa. After being dragged along on one too many birding expeditions, she abandoned the birds for fungi. She was an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, and then completed a PhD in Botany and Genetics at Duke University. After completing a Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, she joined the faculty at Harvard University. She next moved to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she is now Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Departments of Botany and Bacteriology.

Anne has given over 100 invited talks to academic and popular audiences in countries including China, Colombia, France, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States.

She has been awarded the Alexopoulos Prize for a Distinguished Early Career Mycologist (2010), the Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Harvard University Graduate Student Council (2011), the Fannie Cox Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching from Harvard University (2013), and a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellowship (2011-2012).

Her research has been featured by the New York Times, National Public Radio, Slate, and the Wisconsin State Journal, among others.

In 2019, Anne was elected President of the Mycological Society of America.

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