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 AI study of risk factors in type 1 diabetes
06.03.2019 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Rising CO2 has unforeseen strong impact on Arctic plant productivity
21.02.2019 | Max-Planck-Institut für Meteorologie

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: Revealing the secret of the vacuum for the first time

New research group at the University of Jena combines theory and experiment to demonstrate for the first time certain physical processes in a quantum vacuum

For most people, a vacuum is an empty space. Quantum physics, on the other hand, assumes that even in this lowest-energy state, particles and antiparticles...

Im Focus: Sussex scientists one step closer to a clock that could replace GPS and Galileo

Physicists in the EPic Lab at University of Sussex make crucial development in global race to develop a portable atomic clock

Scientists in the Emergent Photonics Lab (EPic Lab) at the University of Sussex have made a breakthrough to a crucial element of an atomic clock - devices...

Im Focus: Sensing shakes

A new way to sense earthquakes could help improve early warning systems

Every year earthquakes worldwide claim hundreds or even thousands of lives. Forewarning allows people to head for safety and a matter of seconds could spell...

Im Focus: A thermo-sensor for magnetic bits

New concept for energy-efficient data processing technology

Scientists of the Department of Physics at the University of Hamburg, Germany, detected the magnetic states of atoms on a surface using only heat. The...

Im Focus: The moiré patterns of three layers change the electronic properties of graphene

Combining an atomically thin graphene and a boron nitride layer at a slightly rotated angle changes their electrical properties. Physicists at the University of Basel have now shown for the first time the combination with a third layer can result in new material properties also in a three-layer sandwich of carbon and boron nitride. This significantly increases the number of potential synthetic materials, report the researchers in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Last year, researchers in the US caused a big stir when they showed that rotating two stacked graphene layers by a “magical” angle of 1.1 degrees turns...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers measure near-perfect performance in low-cost semiconductors

18.03.2019 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Nanocrystal 'factory' could revolutionize quantum dot manufacturing

18.03.2019 | Materials Sciences

Long-distance quantum information exchange -- success at the nanoscale

18.03.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>