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BIO 295: Field Studies of Wild Mushrooms

mushroommushroomMyths, legends, and tales abound that embroil the dark underground world of mushrooms and toadstools. Often associated with sinister slime, ghostly chants, and fairy rings, mushrooms have long been the object of a love-hate relationship with humans. A few fungal species cause diseases while others are well known for their curative properties. Morels and truffles are prized culinary delights while other species such as an Amanita dubbed the "Death Angel" can kill a person with one bite. It was less than 100 years ago that a Scottish biologist named Alexander Fleming discovered the antibacterial properties of a mold called Penicillium notatum, which soon revolutionized the world of medicine with the miracle drug known as penicillin. 

The fungal kingdom is one of the least studied and unappreciated kingdoms. Many people do not realize that life as we know it would cease to exist without fungi. Scientists have determined that nearly ninety percent of plants have a vital symbiotic relationship with fungi and therefore our lives are dependent on this vital relationship between plants and fungi. Ecologists have long known that without decomposers such as fungi, Earth would soon become buried in waste. 

This fall 2013 in BIO 295 the Field Studies of Wild Mushrooms course, we will uncover some of the myths and legends surrounding this misunderstood kingdom. In this evening hybrid course, we will explore the basic mushroom identification of both poisonous and choice edibles. Some independent field work will be required as we search the fields and forests for mushroom specimens to bring to class for study and identification. Photographs, descriptions, spore print patterns and colors will be shared using the college's eLearning Blackboard site. This is a great introductory course for teachers, medical professional, chefs, nature lovers and anyone else interested in exploring and discovering the magical world of mushrooms. 

Class meets at the Middletown campus on Wednesday evenings 5:00 – 9:00 PM on 8/28, 9/18, 9/25, 10/9, 10/30. Students are encouraged but not required to attend the North American Mycological Association National Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas on 10/24-10/27 - advance plans must be made by the individual student - see http://namyco.org/  for more information (students are responsible for all costs of attending this optional (but great) conference). 

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