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Mushrooms Fight Back

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  • Darvin DeShazer
    Mushrooms Fight Back - They Release a Natural Slug Repellant Researchers at Humboldt State University found that when slugs bite mushrooms, the mushrooms fight
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2001
      Mushrooms Fight Back - They Release a Natural Slug Repellant

      Researchers at Humboldt State University found that when
      slugs bite mushrooms, the mushrooms fight back by synthesizing
      distasteful chemicals. This study started when the researchers were
      collecting wild mushrooms in the coastal rain forests of the Pacific
      Northwest. They noticed that some mushroom species had small bite
      marks on their caps. It looked like these mushrooms had been tasted
      and rejected by the giant banana slug, Ariolimax columbianus. To
      find out why some mushrooms are eaten and others are not, they
      studied the "sweetbread mushroom," Clitopilus prunulus. Slugs were
      observed to briefly taste this mushroom before feeding on other
      mushroom species.
      Like the name implies, the sweetbread mushroom is a highly
      edible species found in North America and Europe and it is usually
      cooked before human consumption. In a recent article, William Wood
      and coworkers described how tissue disruption of raw mushrooms, like
      that caused by munching slugs, released a slug repellant [Biochem.
      Syst. and Ecol., 29, 531 (2001)]. A comparison of the volatile
      chemicals in crushed and uncrushed mushrooms showed a 19-fold
      increase of one chemical, 1-octen-3-ol. In laboratory tests, banana
      slugs refused to eat lettuce that had been treated with similar
      quantities of this chemical. This chemical is not found in mushrooms
      commonly eaten by banana slugs.
      To humans, 1-octen-3-ol, has a typical mushroom-like odor.
      This chemical has been identified from many other species of
      mushrooms, so its slug antifeedant activity may be wide spread in
      nature. In mushrooms this chemical is biosynthesized from linoleic
      acid. Besides repelling slugs, 1-octen-3-ol may protect mushrooms
      from microbes trying to invade a wound inflicted by the slugs, since
      it has also been shown to have antibacterial activity.

      For further information contact:

      Professor William F. Wood Phone (707) 826-3109
      Department of Chemistry FAX (707) 826-3279
      Humboldt State University E-Mail chem@...
      Arcata, CA 95521, USA

      More by Dr. Wood on mushroom odors at:
      http://www.mssf.org/mnews/c_smells.html
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