Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Biologist Treks Across Southwestern China to Answer the “Killer Mushroom” Question

10.12.2012
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.

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.


Trogia venenata mushroom

“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.”

Read Jianping Xu’s study online: http://bit.ly/TR9lVl
Download photos at http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/media/killer_mushroom/
For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact:
Veronica McGuire
Media Relations
Faculty of Health Sciences
McMaster University
905-525-9140, ext. 22169
vmcguir@mcmaster.ca

Veronica McGuire | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.mcmaster.ca

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>