When most think about discovering a new species, they probably imagine finding a new plant in the Amazon or a new creature in the depths of the ocean. But a pair of scientists made such a discovery much closer to home in a pack of store-bought mushrooms.
According to the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, mycologists (people who study fungi) Bryn Dentinger and Laura Martinez-Suz found three new species of porcini mushrooms in a package purchased in London.
In a preprint of their study, which has not been peer reviewed, the pair wrote that while porcinis are some of the most popular wild, edible mushrooms, they can be particularly difficult to identify when they come from “under-documented regions.”
“We used DNA-sequencing to identify three species of mushroom contained within a commercial packet of dried Chinese porcini purchased in London. Surprisingly, all three have never been formally described by science and required new scientific names,” the study authors wrote. “This demonstrates the ubiquity of unknown fungal diversity even in widely traded commercial food products from one of the most charismatic and least overlooked groups of mushrooms.”
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