Biological function of hallucinogens in fungi ?

Tom Volk tjvolk at
Tue Jan 23 10:06:57 EST 1996

VPGH51A at (Jim Berlstein) wrote:
>Re: function of hallucinogen in mushroom-
>Jim's Chemical warfare theory
>I believe the function of fungal toxins is for the poisoning of one's 
>mycological neighbors, and generally occurs mostly in fruiting, when the 
>nitrogen is low, so the resourse is worth the cost of producing these 
>chemical weapons.  I do not believe it is to eliminate waste products.  I 
>scoff at the idea.  Creating these molecules, some quite complex, like 
>the amanita toxins, cannot be done too easily.  It would be like if you 
>took all your waste paper and made an origami eifel tower, and then threw 
>it away.  It does not make sense.  Anyway, that's what I think.  Anyone 
>else with a theory to throw out?
>So far there is:
>1) Waste disposal
>2) Trans-dimensional portal
>3) Jim's Chemical warfare theory


Hi Jim.  Certainly some fungal mycelia produce 
compounds to protect them from other fungi, and 
especially from bacteria. However, your chemical warfare 
theory would make some sense if the mushrooms in question 
were actually in contact with their fungal neighbors.  
Being aerial, thre is no such contact, or even opportunity 
for diffusion of the toxins.  So far as I know the toxins 
are not found in the mycelium in anywhere near the quantity 
(if at all) in which they are found concentrated in the 
fruiting body.

I don't really know the answer to "why" fungi produce 
toxins, but the waste disposal mechanism makes the most 
sense to me.

********************************************  (0)  
Tom Volk                                     (000)
Center for Forest Mycology Research,        (00000)
Forest Products Lab, Madison Wisconsin       (000)
& UW- Madison Dept. of Botany                (000)
tjvolk at                      | |
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