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More than 100 magic mushroom genomes point the way to new cultivars

Date: 4.12.2023 

Scientists have amassed genome data for dozens of "magic mushroom" isolates and cultivars, with the goal to learn more about how their domestication and cultivation has changed them.

Kredit: Alistair McTaggart.The findings, published December 4 in the journal Current Biology, may point the way to the production of intriguing new cultivars, say the researchers.

The study shows that commercial cultivars of the mushroom Psilocybe cubensis lack genetic diversity because of their domestication for human use. Meanwhile, a naturalized population of mushrooms in Australia has maintained much more diversity, they show, including unique gene variants controlling the production of the mushroom's active ingredient, psilocybin.

"What was surprising was the extreme homozygosity of some cultivars of magic mushroom," says Alistair McTaggart of The University of Queensland, Australia. "Some of these cultivars have been nearly stripped of any diversity except at their genes controlling sexual reproduction."

"Whether this happened intentionally, by targeted inbreeding to fix traits over the last half century, or unintentionally through a lack of diversity to cross against is hard to know," he says. "The trailblazers who domesticated magic mushrooms have set the stage for how we can advance cultivation and innovate with shrooms as we improve our understanding of psilocybin and its benefits."

Image source: Alistair McTaggart.





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