Biological function of hallucinogens in fungi ?

Thomas O'Dell todell at
Tue Jan 23 15:15:43 EST 1996

Psilocybin, at least, is produced in the mycelium. Psilocybe semilanceata 
which can inhabit the roots of grasses, shows antagonism in culture to 
some other root pathogenic fungi. the same situation occurs with 
clavicepitaceous endophytes of grasses except that the compunds are toxic 
to animal grazers... so in some cases the "toxin" is apparently involved in 
fungal mutualisms with higher plants.

On 23 Jan 1996, Tom Volk wrote:

> 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
> >  JIM BERLSTEIN, B.F.D.-    VPGH51A at
> 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.
> ---Tom
> ********************************************  (0)  
> Tom Volk                                     (000)
> Center for Forest Mycology Research,        (00000)
> Forest Products Lab, Madison Wisconsin       (000)
> & UW- Madison Dept. of Botany                (000)
> tjvolk at                      | |
> ********************************************  | |  

todell at
Mycology is better than Urology!

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