Although some umbrella-shaped bacteria are unusually beautiful, some may contain highly toxic substances,media CNET reported. For foragers, understanding the differences is critical. This is also the key for doctors to diagnose patients with mushroom poisoning. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have developed a portable test tool that can detect traces of the geese paste toxin, one of the world’s deadliest mushrooms.
The test can be used to process rice-grain-sized mushroom samples and can also be used to detect toxins in human or dog urine. “We have developed this test primarily for mushrooms in food,” ARS microbiologist Candace Bever said in a statement released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Occasionally, it is also enough to detect toxins in urine. The test takes about 10 minutes to produce results.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, eating toxic mushrooms kills more than 100 people worldwide each year. Thousands of people are sick and need medical care. Mushroom poisoning can lead to severe gastrointestinal diseases as well as liver and kidney damage.
“We hope that doctors and veterinarians will be able to identify geese toxin poisoning quickly and confidently without having to clinically eliminate other suspected gastrointestinal diseases in the first place,” Bever said. “
The test is not currently suitable for amateur mushroom hunters, but the USDA says, “If commercial partners are found to be able to produce and sell test kits, it can be used as a practical and definitive way for mushroom foragers to identify and avoid eating mushrooms containing geese.” The ARS team published a paper on the test in toxins this month.
The USDA warns that the test will only identify the presence of toxins. It cannot detect hallucinogens or determine whether mushrooms are edible. Even if they enter the market as a test kit, foragers still need to learn about their mushrooms.