Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologist treks across Southwestern China to answer the 'killer mushroom' question

Date:
December 6, 2012
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
The findings shattered a myth started by a 2010 article in the journal Science, claiming the Trogia venenata mushroom contained high concentrations of the metal barium, causing high blood pressure, cardiac arrests and sudden deaths in southwestern China over the past 30 years.

Trogia venenata mushroom.
Credit: Yanchun Li

McMaster University biologist Jianping Xu trekked over 30 kilometers a day through mountainous terrain and inclement weather in southwestern China to discover that a wild mushroom wasn't at the root of 400 unexplained deaths.

Related Articles


His findings, published online in Applied and Environmental Biology, shattered a myth started by a 2010 article in the journal Science, claiming the Trogia venenata mushroom contained high concentrations of the metal barium, causing high blood pressure, cardiac arrests and sudden deaths in southwestern China over the past 30 years. The deaths mainly occurred in small villages, some of which saw nearly one-third of their population perish quickly.

"Although there was no published evidence supporting the theory that barium in the T. venenata mushroom was the leading culprit of what was called Sudden Unexplained Death (SUD), it was picked up as a fact by almost all of the major news media," said Xu, associate professor of biology and a member of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University. "These reports caused significant concern among the public about potentially high levels of barium in wild edible mushrooms in southwest China."

Every summer since 2009, Xu and his team have travelled across the Yunnan province, collecting fruiting bodies of T. venenata as well as other mushrooms from villages severely impacted by these deaths.

Researchers tested the mushrooms and found the barium concentration was so low it would require a person weighing 150 pounds to consume at least 35 kg of dried T. venenata for it to be lethal. In fact, the barium concentration in these mushrooms is the same as in common foods, such as fresh meat and poultry.

The majority of SUDs, since 1978 in Yunnan Province, occurred in apparently healthy people, mostly young females, during the rainy season from June to August.

While previous studies suggested certain mushrooms could accumulate heavy metals, there was no information about high levels of barium in wild edible mushrooms. The speculation and subsequent media reports generated significant concern among health officials, the general public and all levels of government and severely impacted the economy by affecting trade of many wild, edible Chinese mushrooms, such as Matsutake, truffles, morels and Chanterelles.

Although Xu's results show these mushrooms contain low levels of barium, he says barium can't be ruled out as a contributor to the deaths, given that high levels of barium were found in the blood, urine and hair samples of some of the victims. Yet, his study does suggest that barium in mushrooms was unlikely the leading cause. "Though there are a couple of leads," he said, "further investigation is needed to discover what the true cause was for these mysterious deaths."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McMaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "Biologist treks across Southwestern China to answer the 'killer mushroom' question." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206141323.htm>.
McMaster University. (2012, December 6). Biologist treks across Southwestern China to answer the 'killer mushroom' question. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 24, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206141323.htm
McMaster University. "Biologist treks across Southwestern China to answer the 'killer mushroom' question." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121206141323.htm (accessed January 24, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Florida Might Legalize Black Bear Hunting

Newsy (Jan. 24, 2015) A string of black bear attacks has Florida officials considering lifting the ban on hunting the animals to control their population. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Ebola Killing Large Portion Of Ape Population

Newsy (Jan. 23, 2015) Experts estimate Ebola has wiped out one-third of the world&apos;s gorillas and chimpanzees. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Controversy Shrouds Captive Killer Whale in Miami

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) Activists hope the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) will label killer whales endangered, allowing lawyers to sue a Miami aquarium to release an orca into the wild after 44 years. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

‘Healthy’ Foods That Surprisingly Pack on Pounds

Buzz60 (Jan. 23, 2015) Some &apos;healthy&apos; foods are actually fattening. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) shines a light on the sneaky foods like nuts, seeds, granola, trail mix, avocados, guacamole, olive oil, peanut butter, fruit juices and salads that are good for you...but not so much for your waistline. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins