Posted by: cassandrabrooks | January 29, 2010

Death cap mushrooms at Point Reyes National Seashore

Deathcap mushrooms (also known as Amanita phalloides) are found throughout the Point Reyes region and are the most poisonous mushrooms in the world. But they’re fairly new arrivals here. They invaded the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1930s, likely brought over on cork trees from Europe for the wine industry.  By the late 1960s, deathcaps were found in Tomales Bay State Park and have since spread throughout the Point Reyes Peninsula.

Benjamin Wolfe, a graduate student at Harvard, is studying the mushroom’s invasion here in Point Reyes.  He’s using genetics to study their abundance and distribution, trying to understand what controls and confines their invasion.

I sat down with Ben in his mushroom lab at Harvard to find out more.

To watch the audio slideshow, click here.

To listen to just the podcast, click here.

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