“There will undoubtedly be a lot of interest in Sweden, and definitely in Japan once these discoveries become known there,” says Henrik Sundberg, who conducted the study.
Lyophyllum is a family of many different species of fungi. One of them is Lyophyllum shimeji, previously believed to grow only in the Far East. In Japan, the hon-shimeji – or “true shimeji” – is a delicacy, and so rare that a kilo of Japanese mushrooms of perfect quality can fetch as much as SEK 8,000 (800 Euro). Then, two years ago, came indications that the species also grows in Sweden.
“We were visited by a Japanese mycologist who found a fungus on a pine heath outside Skellefteå which she thought was similar to hon-shimeji,” says Henrik Sundberg, a student at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. “Using molecular techniques, we’ve now been able to show that this northern Swedish fungus is identical to the Japanese one.”
“After getting a positive response from Japanese mycologists, we became more and more convinced that we were on the trail of a Japanese delicacy,” says Sundberg. “When we found more the following year, we started up a project to examine the fungus using molecular techniques. We were soon able to show that the Swedish and Japanese fungi are, without a doubt, identical.”Thrive on pine heaths
Its discovery in Sweden is reported in Sundberg’s thesis on systematics and biodiversity at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg, and will be featured in a future issue of Swedish journal Svensk Mykologisk Tidskrift.Shimeji
Next to the matsutake, the hon-shimeji is the most sought-after and expensive culinary mushroom in the Japanese market. Both of these gourmet mushrooms have been in rapid decline since the mid-20th century, probably due to pests attacking host trees and changes in forestry. Its scarcity means that wild hon-shimeji is currently sold only by a few specialist dealers and served at exclusive restaurants.
The Lyophyllum family has not been widely studied in northern Europe and is notorious for its lush flora of synonyms and poorly defined species. It is therefore unknown how many Lyophyllum species there are worldwide. The mushrooms examined in the study were collected by Henrik Sundberg and Niclas Bergius along with Swedish amateur mycologists, and have since been supplemented with herbarium material.Contact:
Helena Aaberg | idw
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