Alcorn hosts Mississippi Shiitake Mushroom seminar

The School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences hosted an informative seminar entitled, “Elemental Analysis of Shiitake Mushrooms from Mississippi,” Thursday, September 3 in the Ray Johnson Assembly Center in the Extension and Research Complex.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Gretchen E. Potts, a professor at the University of Tennessee. She collaborated her research on shiitake mushrooms with Jay N. Patel, senior biochemistry major at the University of Tennessee, and Dr. Frank Mrema, forestry and mycology specialist for the Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center at Alcorn.

“This seminar is relevant because it will trigger more research questions among students and faculty. It will reveal to us what areas we need to focus on more in the future,” Dr. Mrema expressed.

Potts began her lecture with background information on the research and revealed that after a major flood in Chattanooga, Tennessee, shiitake mushrooms got contaminated with water from the Tennessee Products Superfund (Chattanooga Creek) site. She analyzed the mushrooms to determine if they were edible.

Ten years later, once noticing some discoloration of the sweetgum logs while harvesting mushrooms here in Lorman, Mrema contacted Potts to determine if the mushrooms had absorbed any heavy metals that would have polluted them. She presented the results of testing the mushrooms and comparison with the levels of the Chattanooga shiitake mushrooms.

“This collaboration between Dr. Mrema and I, and our two universities, allowed the expansion of research on the contaminated mushrooms across state lines,” said Potts. “In the future, I would like to see us do more work in statistical analysis, analysis of more samples, and the analysis of creek water.”

For more information on shiitake research, contact Dr. Mrema at [email protected] or (601) 877-6596.

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