James Scott – the Whiskey Fungus

Myco-Consortium presentation

On the trail of the whiskey fungus

A talk by James Scott

Friday, April 1, 7pm Eastern 4:00 PM Pacific

SVIMS has joined the Myco-consortium and sharing in their presentations. This is for MEMBERS ONLY and not to be shared in any way as otherwise we lose the privilege of belonging to this group. 

Despite distillation having been practiced for over 3,000 years, only in the past few centuries have social wealth and agricultural bounty coincided to allow the stockpiling of spirits, with enhanced flavor and aroma characteristics accompanied by increased value as the emergent side benefits. The main downside to spirit aging has been the loss of alcohol over time to evapouration – the so-called ‘Angels’ Share’ – long known to perfume the neighbourhoods around barrel houses. The Angels’ Share, however, is not just for the angels.

 

Twenty years ago I answered a call from a large distillery to investigate a curious phenomenon of blackening on the outsides of homes, traffic signs, and patio furniture in areas near whiskey barrel houses. Incredulous at first, the unexpected journey that followed revealed a beautiful and physiologically intricate group of fungi that have long been hiding in plain sight, garnered popular press coverage at a level usually reserved for rock stars, and spawned a series of massive lawsuits against powerful multinational corporations. This is the story of the whiskey fungus.

 

Dr. James Scott is a faculty member in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto where is the Head of the Division of Occupational & Environmental Health, and the Director of the UAMH Centre for Global Microfungal Biodiversity. Dr. Scott’s research focuses on the interactions between people and microorganisms (fungi, bacteria and viruses). His mycological work studies the taxonomy, ecology and aerobiology of human-associated fungi responsible for infectious and allergic disease. His work on bacteria focuses on the influence of environmental exposures on the acquisition and maturation of the infant gut microbiome, and the airborne movement of pathogenic bacteria in healthcare buildings and outdoor air. Dr. Scott’s teaching deals with biological hazards in the workplace and community, public health sanitation, and medical and veterinary mycology. Most recently Dr. Scott joined the executive team of PsiloTech Health Solutions, a Canadian biotech start-up led by neuropsychiatrist and psychopharmacologist Dr. Peter Silverstone to commercialize the clinical use of psychedelic mushrooms in the treatment of PTSD and other psychiatric illnesses resistant to conventional therapy.

Richard Kerrigan – Agaricus presentation

A talk by Richard W. Kerrigan, author of the 2016 monograph Agaricus of North America.

Friday, March 25, 7:00 PM Eastern 4:00 PM Pacific

As you are aware by now, SVIMS has joined the Myco-consortium and sharing in their presentations. This is for MEMBERS ONLY and not to be shared in any way as otherwise we lose the privilege of belonging to this group.

 

Richard will introduce us to the Agaricus genus and how it is organized taxonomically and phylogenetically, followed by a series of interesting or representative examples of species in North America. Where possible, he’ll emphasize the Agaricus species local to the North East.

Richard W. Kerrigan was born and raised in California. He became interested in Agaricus in 1971, after meeting David Arora while both were undergraduates at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at San Francisco State University (1976, 1982, with mentor Harry Thiers), a doctorate from University of California, Santa Barbara (1989), and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto (1989-1991). From 1991-2017, Kerrigan held the position of Director of Research, USA, with Sylvan Inc, the world’s leading producer of cultivated mushroom spawn, where he worked on breeding improved strains of cultivated mushrooms.

His study of the diversity, taxonomy, systematics and phylogeny of wild species of Agaricus continues as a separate, independent area of research now extending over 50 years.

 

Trudell Tricholoma Study

Steve Trudell and several other researchers have recently released a study of Tricholoma species in BC and the US Pacific Northwest.  Steve has made the paper available to SVIMS members. You can download/view the pdf by clicking on the cover.

This is an imporant study.  Many of the Trichs that we thought were in this area have turned out not to be the same species as the European names they were first given.

Presentation / Meeting with Britt Bunyard

Lives of Fungi – A Natural History of our Planet’s Decomposers  is a new book by Britt Bunyard, the Editor-In-Chief of the journal FUNGI. He will give us a preview and tell us some of the amazing stories. He has visited us in Victoria before and you can expect something special.

Jan/March NAMA Mycophile available

SVIMS is a member of The North American Mycological Association (NAMA), the collective that unites the mycological societies on this continent.  Four to six times a year NAMA publishes its newsletter, the Mycophile, and makes it available to members of all supporting clubs.  The January-March issue was recently released.  To read it, click or tap on the picture of the cover.