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Poisonous fungi 

Poisonous fungi
Poisonous fungi

Hans Persson

, and David A. Warrell

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date: 27 February 2021

This chapter covers poisoning by members of the fungal subkingdom Dikarya that includes most of the ‘higher fungi’. The phylum Ascomycota contains the medically important toxic fungi Claviceps purpurea, the cause of ergotism, Aspergillus flavus, a source of hepatotoxic and carcinogenic aflatoxins, the edible but potentially toxic morel mushrooms (Morchella species), Gyromitra species, and Podostroma cornudamae that has caused multisystem symptoms and signs. The phylum Basidiomycota includes the order Agaricales (gilled mushrooms/toadstools or agarics) to which most of the medically important larger fungi belong. ‘Mushroom’ and ‘toadstool’ may suggest ‘edible’ and ‘poisonous’ respectively, but these terms are not strictly applied. Poisonous species must be distinguished from field (Agaricus campestris) and cultivated (A. bisporus) mushrooms and from the many other mushrooms that are considered to be delicious and are passionately sought after by mycophiles worldwide.

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