Boxshall A-G, Birch JL, Lebel T, Symonds MRE, Callahan DL (2021) A field-based investigation of simple phenol variation in Australian Agaricus xanthodermusMycologia 113: 1123-1135

What’s the paper about?

Did you know food poisoning from mushrooms is the commonest form of food poisoning? This mostly due to people having a bad reaction to phenolic compounds that form in SOME mushrooms (think about it like Russian roulette). This paper examines what predicts whether a mushroom will have your name on it. Answer: does it smell like phenol, and does it have streaks of yellow stain in it – if so don’t eat it. Also, some environments and parts and ages of mushrooms are more ‘nasty’ than others.

What’s the story behind it?

My involvement in this paper, my first ever fungus paper (in a journal completely new to me) was through helping out Grace Boxshall, a Masters’ student of my colleague Damien Callahan. Initially this study involved a number of species, so I was called in to help with the analysis, particularly to using a phylogenetic comparative approach. As it happens, in the end, most of the cross-species analysis was removed from the paper, but some of my analytical touches (and figures) remain. It took a long time from initial work to publication, not helped by Grace’s propensity to get concussed in sword fights.

Fun fact: the original title of this paper was “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” but we were, rightly I think, talked out of this by the reviewers and editor.


One response »

  1. […] Matt has five new papers that have either been published or been accepted. One in Evolutionary Biology with Kalya Subasinghe (PhD student at Australian National University) on bill measurements in birds. Two on escape behaviour in both African and Sri Lankan birds (in Animal Behaviour and American Naturalist respectively. The latter shows a clear effect of the Sri Lankan civil war on birds wariness of humans. Melissa Griffin has had her final PhD paper published in Insects – and finally, a bit out of left-field, Matt has had his first fungal paper accepted in Mycologia. […]

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