Mushrooms in Ecuador with Alan Rockefeller and Mandie Quark

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Mushrooms in Ecuador with Alan Rockefeller and Mandie Quark

 

Photo of Collybiopsis quercophila by Mandie Quark

Today we travel to Ecuador with Alan Rockefeller and Mandie Quark of Mycena to talk about the trip we all went on to look for rare and new species of tropical fungi in the jungle. Some were poisonous, some psychedelic, some glowed under UV, some were growing out of insects, and others were brand new to science. We chat about notable tropical species, DNA sequencing, how to find undescribed species and publish them, mushroom photography tips, how to maintain a fungarium,  and so mush more.



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TRANSCRIPT
Alex 0:11 Welcome, welcome, you are listening to the mushroom revival podcast. I'm your host, Alex Dora. And we are absolutely obsessed with the wonderful, wacky, mysterious world of mushrooms and fungi. We bring on guests from all around the world to geek out with us and go down this mysterious rabbit hole to figure out what the heck is going on with these mushroom and fungal friends of ours. And today, we have Mandy and Allen joining us. We just got back from Ecuador on a trip together, which is super, super fun. And y'all just got back from Colombia. So welcome home and all your adventures and how y'all doing? Speaker 1 0:51 We're doing really good. It's been really fun to be in Ecuador and Colombia, and it's also really nice to be back. Speaker 2 0:58 Yeah, it was sure. Um, I just feel like, you know, you go down there, and it's just like, instantaneously transported to another reality. Um, and then, just as quick as you're down there, we were back home, it felt like, so yeah, I kind of want to spend more time down there next time. It's just such a magical place. Alex 1:26 And it's been forever since I've seen you, Mandy. And Alan, I mean, we known each other for almost 10 years. Now, it seems like it's been, it's been a while at various mushroom events and things like that. And I think this is the longest trip together that we we spent so it's just like, really nice. And I felt super grateful for you guys for posting it. I was, I think the last person to sign up and I signed up like three days before it was very spontaneous. I got my passport in the mail that morning. And I was like, Alright, let's do it. And I'm really glad I did it. It was it was such a great trip. So yeah, good job organizing and doing everything. It was really good. Speaker 2 2:10 Thank you. And I have to say it's like it's not. I mean, I can organize the crap out of you know, I can organize till the cows come home, but it's really about the people. I feel like, for these trips like that, the place is amazing. And it will always be amazing. But the people that signed up, and I was like shocked to see I was like shocked to see that you sign up. I was really happy. But I was also like, oh my god, Alex. So yeah, it was really a super, super last minute surprise. And yeah, I'm also really happy and also really grateful. And all the other people that sign up are also amazingly cool. So we just have to give it up for the participants because they I feel like they really could make or break the trip. And they really made it. Alex 3:01 Yeah, we have that Whatsapp group chat. And it's still it's still popping off. You know, it did, it seems like, I know, I can speak for myself, but I feel like I made friends that I'll have for life from that trip. And it seems like everyone just like loved each other and had just like an amazing time. And it just shows from the group chat, like everyone is rooting each other on and showing it clips, pictures and all this stuff. So it's just like really sweet. To see mushrooms bringing a big group of people together and and having everyone mesh so well. You know, sometimes going into the jungle can be hard for certain people, but it seems like everyone just loved it. I've had jungle trips where people aren't familiar with that environment. And it can be like, it can bring up a lot for them. And they can be triggered a lot. But it seems like you know, everyone had a really, really good time. So I think it's kudos to you guys for just holding such a really sweet space. So yeah, what so how did you two meet and and, you know, collaborate and? Yeah, what's your origin story? Speaker 1 4:13 I met Mandy at myco fest when she was giving a talk on quarter steps. Yeah, Speaker 2 4:20 myco fest 2022. So, yeah, so many important milestones in my life happened at myco fest. It's so funny. That's also where I met you, Alex. Um, yeah, and I was giving a talk and I just was kind of getting ready for the talk. And Alan was sitting there just sitting there in the corner on his computer like he does. And I just like, oh, there's Alan Rockefeller. I'm gonna go up and say hi, cuz I have known about this motherfucker forever. And yeah, he's gonna get an earful for me right now. So I just went up I was like, Hey, what's up? I'm Mandy, he already knew who I was. He had been in my chemistry for mycologist Facebook group for a really long time. So he just kind of knew who I was from that. And yeah, he loved my talk. It was on the chemistry of Corti steps Alex 5:19 up. And that was your first episode. I think you were one of the very first guests on the podcast. And same with you, Alan. I mean, it's been so many years since I brought both of you on. And now to have you together. It's yeah, it's really sweet. And I'm really glad you two met. And I'm curious what the catalyst for this trip was. I know. Fair, hot, right. He owned on the land and was really active on Facebook. But I'm just curious, like, why why Ecuador. And what was the catalyst for this trip? Speaker 1 5:53 Yeah, for her had an eco resort that he started seven years ago. And I first visited in 2020. And it was absolutely beautiful, just mushrooms everywhere, and really nice accommodations. And it's kind of like you just get on a plane. And it's just this little slice of paradise. And so ever since I went in 2020, I was wanting to go back. And in 2022, we decided to go down there and visit it. Then we said, well, as long as we're going to go there, we might as well invite the whole internet. So we did. Speaker 2 6:29 Yeah, so to just get a little bit more in depth on that. So I had come out here it was like, in like about a month before we decided to do the trip into California. And I was giving this talk at Soma camp. And this amazing, amazing lady named Rachel Bucha Toski, who is an Emmy Award winning photo journalist, freelance photo journalist, she came to my DNA sequencing talk at Selma cam. And I just was like, Oh my God, this girl's awesome. We invited her back to our house, she like photographed here at Alan's house. You know, the garage was a mess, I cleaned up the garage, I cleaned the whole garage and like a week, because I was like, this photojournalist is coming over here. Um, and it was so worth it. She was super amazing. And when she was here, I had been it was in the back of my head for a while I was like, I really want to go to Ecuador. I knew it was the season. It was like February at that time. And I was like, I know, it's if we don't go now we're gonna have to wait till next year. So I just kind of was like, Rachel, do you want to go to Ecuador with us? And she thought it was kind of amazing that we were just gonna go down there. She was like, What are you going down to do and we were like, we're just gonna go photograph mushrooms. And she thought that was so amazing that we would just pay for a trip just to go to Ecuador, to photograph mushrooms. So it was really me trying to get her on board to come photograph us. And then that turned into the whole story that was in The Guardian, earlier this year. Um, originally, that was slated to go to National Geographic, but um, long story and I ended up going to the Guardian. So it wasn't actually published until this year, but it was the work that we did last year. And I just wanted to get her with us. I just wanted to really get her down there. And then it was actually Alan's idea. Like, yeah, what if we're going down there? We might as well just make it into a trip for everyone because there's this whole eco resort that Ferhat has. And we have both No, I knew him online for like eight years at least. So and by the way, his resort is called Finca Heimat lows for anyone that is interested. It's a really great place. So yeah, um, that was the real story. I was like, let me see if I can get Rachel, this photographer down there. And I convinced her. And then we also got drew Eames, our videographer down there, also. And then it was like a week with Rachel a week with Rachel and Drew, and then the week with the for a group. Alex 9:20 So that's so cool. I want her like Speaker 2 9:22 we got to do it again. So yeah. How Alex 9:26 How was the first year versus the second year? In terms of biodiversity group dynamics, like everything? Yeah, Speaker 2 9:34 so group dynamics was really quick. All those people signed up with in 28 days or less. So that group was crazy. We had some crazy, like, dynamic sound, but it was also like amazing, like, really spectacular. And five of the people from last year ended up coming back this year. So five out of 13 people came back. So that's like, a really good, you know, rate. They just loved it so much that they were like we got to come back again. So So yeah, so then compared to biodiversity, we definitely saw different things last year. We saw some of the same things do you want to do you want to talk about that? Speaker 1 10:29 So last year, we made 1017, I naturalist observations between 19 people. And of those we saw 436 species. And then this year, we made a little bit more Plus, we're not even done uploading our photos. So it will be a bunch more, but this year, we have 11 1100 observations so far. And 433 species so round, so definitely going to get quite a bit more biodiversity this year. Also, last year, there was 204 people helping us identify the mushrooms just I naturalist users, we got 161 So far this year, that number will keep going up to so similar, but we're definitely going to find more things this year. Speaker 2 11:18 Yeah, how did any of my moth photos yet, so the species should definitely go up higher and last year. So last year, that was 13 people, plus me and Alan plus then it's the people that we invite, like Alex and DNA, so they make their own observations. But this year, we had quite a more number of people because we had three Ecuadorian people, as opposed to just one last year. And those two Ecuadorian kids made a bunch of vouchers to go into the herbarium. And I think they didn't even really upload most of their stuff to it not because they did it a different way. Right. Is that right? Speaker 1 12:03 I've been seeing their stuff online. Okay. Okay. Yeah. So last year, we had 19 people, and this year, we have 20 people. And last year, the most common mushroom that we saw on the trip was philosophy, Missouri. And that is a really cool mushroom. Because it's super rare. There's only 35 observations of it on I naturalist and 30 of them are from the area that we did our trip. That's awesome. You know, every rare mushroom is common somewhere. And then this year, the most common mushroom was the beautiful purple coral, clip and dry. Alex 12:39 And one of those coral you thought was a new species, right? Speaker 1 12:44 Yeah, that's the one. And is Alex 12:48 it in process to get DNA analyzed? And what I know, I know there's a what is it from Germany, there's only one naming or something like that. Speaker 1 12:59 For malaria. Shaffer, I was discovered in Germany. And that name is not really used much in Germany, for some reason it caught on in South America. So there's probably some sort of book on South American mushrooms that uses that name. And so if you look at the i naturalist map, Clover Schaefer is all over South America and not really anywhere else, which is really unusual for a mushroom that was discovered over 200 years ago in Germany. Speaker 2 13:29 Yeah, it was like 1888, right? I'm pretty sure it was, it was. The holotype was 1888, in Bavaria, Germany, which is like the Black Forest of Germany. So it's probably not that. So the one thing that could come out of this trip would be the renaming of this thing from Calavera Shaffer i, which is this very niche European species to you know, once we have the DNA sequence data. The differences would be the difference between this Bavarian species and this one and, you know, northern South America. So it could it could be really cool paper. Speaker 1 14:14 And I stayed up really late one night really digging into the name club area, Shaffer i, and looks to me like nobody knows what club area Shaffer I really is. Alex 14:25 And did did the one from Germany ever get DNA sequenced? Or it was so long ago, that was pre sequencing. Speaker 1 14:34 It was found in a nada, and the name really hasn't been used much. So nobody knows which mushroom they were talking about when they started naming the various shape for it. So we don't really know what the one in Germany was. Alex 14:50 In the process of getting that name changed would first start with doing DNA sequences of both the Ecuadorian variety and then the Germany one and figuring out how different they are. And then how do you name a new species you have to write, you have to get a paper published in a scientific journal, or how does that work? Speaker 1 15:12 Well, they've relaxed the rules on that recently. So it used to be you had to write a description in Latin, and it had to be published in a peer reviewed journal that was like paper journal. And now it is so much easier. You don't have to do the Latin anymore does not require a peer review. And it doesn't even have to be in a journal, it can just be on a webpage. Alex 15:34 Oh, okay. That's great. Speaker 2 15:39 It would be good to have DNA sequence data, it would be great to have wherever club area Shaffer I, wherever that holotype is stored to in Germany somewhere, presumably, to get them, the people at that phone, get them to run the sequence? That'd be awesome. Because there wasn't sequence at Amgen mag. I haven't well, okay, so as it might be there, and they might have already ran it. Speaker 1 16:08 No, no, I mean, nobody's been used that name and hazard, they probably wouldn't. Yeah, so we have no way of knowing whether the sequence data and GenBank. So we don't know what it is. Speaker 2 16:19 Yeah. So it would be great if we could get if there was a holotype somewhere in Germany, that said, this is clarius shaver, if we could get some of that material, and somehow DNA sequencing, and it hasn't degraded so much that you couldn't be NAC with it, and then compare that to this Ecuadorian specimen, it would really show the differences, but probably what is going to happen is that we're not going to ever have DNA sequence data for that. And it's just going to become, you know, forgotten name and forgotten name eventually. And if we rename this one to something else, then that would be the one that would take precedence. And it's a rather common mushroom in this area, like everyone pretty much found it on the trail. It was there last year, it was there this year. So I think it would be great to give this a name because it has a bunch of AI naturalist observations in South America. But really, what you need is like, you know, the sequence data, and then some really good micrographs. So the sport did you do this? Well, Speaker 1 17:32 sequence data and microscopy is not required to name a new species. But it is a good idea, just so people know what you're talking about. Yeah, I checked GenBank. And there's nothing in GenBank named covariance sheet for AI. But the most important and the most time consuming part of the whole process is a literature review to see if it's already been named. There has been 1000s of species published from South America. And it's likely that one of those is the purple coral that we're looking at. So the need to go back and see which you know, just basically go through every book and every paper that's ever been published from South America, many, many hundreds of 1000s of pages of text and see if we can find something that matches what we're seeing. Alex 18:18 So Mandy, we're both going to the All Things fungi Fest in the UK in September, I want to go to Q funk Areum, the day after it ends, which, if you want to go if you're free, that'd be super fun. But an idea is, I mean, they have collections from all around the world, it'd be cool to see if they have covariant chafer i there. But then also the second thing, piggybacking off of what Alan just said, I mean, they have the biggest mushroom library in the world, and they're transitioning to digitize everything. And I'm just you know, and that leads me to my question, like, how would you go through that much text? Is there a good kind of conglomerated database that you can scan through is any, anyone that you know, working on kind of scanning all these things or using AI in any capacity to help with that? That research? Speaker 2 19:21 Yeah, I guess AI was came to mind for me. Um, you know, only person I can think of that knows about club area is our friend Josh in the Ohio mushroom DNA lab. I can maybe ask him, that's like his thing. He loves Cove area, or clover? eacea. Um, Speaker 1 19:39 I don't think AI could help with this particular question. But you know, the most important thing when you look doing one of these literature, literature searches to find out what they used to call things like this, you know, 50 years ago, 100 years ago, and for that I use species fun Gora, so I'm able to look up the old old names for things. And sometimes, you know, a mushroom will have like 15 or 20 names over the years. And, you know, a long time ago, everything used to be Agaricus, Agaricus muscaria, you know, everything. And then it started to use more and more different genera. So you have to figure out, you know, back in 1880, what were the genera that people would put these little coral type things in there. So we'd be looking at all of the names that have been applied to remarry us all over the years, all the names that have been applied to various covariates and claverie Llinas. And then search on all those names and see if we can figure out if any of them were the scribe from South America had the violet color. Alex 20:44 I think it was the prettiest mushroom on our trip. I mean, I'm biased with the quadriceps I, you know, those were amazing. But yeah, I think they definitely were the most photogenic out of out of the trip, Speaker 1 20:56 they would be extremely surprising if nobody has ever named it. And the chances are, it's been named like probably a dozen times, we just need to find the oldest name. And if we can't, then we can name it. Yeah, Speaker 2 21:09 the oldest name always takes precedence, unless in the case that you can't figure out what that is, because it's so old, that it doesn't have a good enough description. So So yeah, if the oldest name that makes sense, is what we would want to call it. And yeah, if not, then we were thinking about naming it club area, Rosa. After the dog at the place, and then I was such a sweet dog. And I know Rosa Parks, and then also the lady Rosa. At the phone, Gary, she's like the head of fungi in the fog area. So it's like a double meaning, but we're really need a literature search. I would love to have someone on our team. I know, there's a question coming up of this interview of if you had unlimited money and funding and whatever, what will we do, I would just have like a team of Little Mike like, younger, like mycologist that I could just be like, go look up club area, Shaffer eye and like, try to find this and like, they would have all these different skill sets, like, you know, some of them would be really great writers and researchers, and then some of them would be good at DNA sequencing, and then just stuff like that. Yeah, so if I had someone, and I do have one, one girl, um, right now I have a really awesome writing writing volunteer named Jessica. So I could try to stick her on it. But I don't know that she has that much experience in searching obscure. Mushroom names. Alex 22:49 So honestly, y'all should set that up. Because I feel like people would be lining out the door to sign up for that opportunity, like an internship or even get class credit if they're at a university or something like that. But you too, are just such a wealth of information. I feel like if anyone did some sort of internship under you, they would learn more than they would during a PhD in like, a week. So yeah, I would, I would consider it for sure. Speaker 2 23:18 Yeah, well, I would love to do because I haven't really getting into like, just leveraging, like the power of this community. I would love I have been thinking it's been on my list for like two months, honestly, I'm just lacking, making a Google form. And then having people who are interested, because I get people all the time asking me how can they help? How can they collaborate? If I have a Google forum with, like, what are your skills? And how can you contribute, because everyone's skills can be utilized. And I feel like my, one of my just like, special talents in life is just seeing people's skills, and then just like letting them giving them like, the creative freedom within their skill set, like, giving them an outline of what I want. And then like, but when it comes to like, for instance, if their skill set is writing, when it comes, like this is what I want, but then you do the writing, you know, or like, this is what I want, and you make the video. Um, and that that is something I just love doing that I love, like matching people up with their, the jobs that will be the best for them. So yeah, just having this Google forum where people can say what their skills are, and then maybe we don't need them right away. But maybe I have something come up later in the year and I'm like, Oh, we really needed this person to like, who knows, like draw watercolor paintings or like whatever, like some random thing. And then I like could go back to the form and contact people or, yeah, just get up mobilize the community based on this gills because I think that's a really unique aspect of the mushroom. The mycology community in general is that it is like mycelial network and we are all working together, but it could be more optimized. So yeah, that's definitely a future goal for me. Alex 25:19 And were there any mushrooms that are still on your bucket list to find in that region of Ecuador that you hadn't found these last two years? Speaker 1 25:30 One of them that would be really cool is DIKTI, a NEMA hero and I and that is a lichen that has psilocybin in it. Oh, yeah. was certainly Alex 25:40 you. What was the lake in that you found that you thought potentially had it? Speaker 1 25:47 That was DIKTI. And Emma, and it's going to take some study to see what exactly which dictates it was. But there is a possibility that we found that Alex 25:58 cool. And that might be potentially a new species or the, our the same, same species or a different one. Unknown Speaker 26:06 Yeah. Could be cool. Alex 26:08 Yeah, that's so so cool. Is that the only species of lichen that has psilocybin in it? Speaker 1 26:15 It is, and it's really unusual, and that it's in the high ground for AC Family. So, you know, kind of over by microscopy, and it was discovered just a few miles from where we did our foray. Alex 26:28 Do you know of anything, any other kingdoms that have psilocybin or produced psilocybin? The Unknown Speaker 26:37 fungi is the only kingdom that produces psilocybin Alex 26:43 and sometimes inject it into insects, but it's coming from fungus. Speaker 2 26:49 There's a lot more Why don't you say the genera of that contain psilocybin? Because I think people mainly just think of philosophy, but there's a lot. Speaker 1 27:00 Yeah, psilocybin has also been found, and Paimio LIS Pluto as I Naseby for the Athena gym the pilots and maybe Massa spore Alex 27:15 is that still a maybe Speaker 1 27:18 there was some papers that say that they found it but the levels are so low that nobody could ever consume it. And whether they really found it. I think got I'm not quite convinced yet. Okay, Alex 27:30 cool. masses, Bora, for anyone who doesn't know it's the fungus that attacks cicadas or that specific one. Masses Bora I think it's SIG Edina that does that. I know there's there's one that infects the annual cicadas that that injects I think it's the annual that injects the psilocybin and then it's the I think 14 or 17 years that it injects the cathinones, the amphetamine but I always switch them up, and there's, I think, like 14 Different species that are in that kind of group grouping, Speaker 2 28:09 but I'm really that's not and they're completely they're like super distantly related to cordyceps ipotesi and ovo quarters, some tasty there and like anthem author ACA, which is like completely different phylum. So it's, I would love to find, you know, we found a bunch of stuff Cordy likes up on cicadas this year, more than we found last year in Ecuador. But I don't know if it was just Bavaria. Or if it may be is Miss Aspera. Like I don't know. So I'm excited. There was at least two cicadas that went into the barcoding queue for this year. So I'm excited to see what they come back as Alex 28:54 night yeah, I found to this year and I'm pretty positive is very a massive sport. You really don't get the fungus all over the cicada. It's really just the but you get that like classic button I get. Speaker 1 29:12 Yeah, wait. Yeah. And another thing we've been seeing a lot of this year is Mehta Razia. And those are interesting, because they make ergot alkaloids, very similar to LSD. Alex 29:24 Nice. And I'm, I'm curious about there are species that I don't know if this is still true, but there are species of philosophy that don't produce psilocybin. Right? I think just a couple are just one. And is there a debate of whether to keep it in philosophy or Speaker 1 29:46 so that one is philosophy? Fuschl fulva. And that one is definitely in philosophy, according to the DNA barcodes and the full genome sequence and everything, so it's kind of at the base of philosophy That one kind of evolved or split off before the psilocybin gene cluster became part of philosophy that got inherited after that. So it just doesn't, you know, it's not that the genes are turned off or anything, it just doesn't have any of those genes at all. But I don't think it's gonna be split away from philosophy. It's just just one of the interesting species. Alex 30:24 Has anyone done analysis on that species to see if it has like biosystem or other interesting compounds? Speaker 1 30:33 Yes, my friend Yan Borowicz. Ca in the Czech Republic, he grew it. And he grew up on media that was enriched with tryptamines and then analyzed it with mass spectrometry. And he found that it had no biosystem or psilocybin or any of those tryptamine alkaloids, because the gene clusters is completely gone. Wow. Alex 30:56 Is that true? I read, I think a Reddit article probably 12 years ago now about growing psilocybin containing mushrooms on media that has like DMT in it and it absorbs it. It's been so many years since I've read. I don't know if you guys have ever heard that before. Speaker 1 31:19 Yeah, it's basically not true. What happened is that in the late 80s, guards published a paper saying that if you put five Meo DMT, into the media, that was that philosophy was growing in that it would for phosphorylate, any of the tryptamines that were in there, and make a drug called sila mycotoxin. We now know that Salah methoxide doesn't really exist. Because it has a half life, that's just a few, a few minutes long. So turns out that growing mushrooms on different media has very minor changes in the chemical composition at the mushrooms and what effects the composition of the alkaloids a whole lot more is the species and the strain of mushroom as being grown rather than what they're growing. Alex 32:07 What was the most common species name of last year, that philosophy species are Speaker 1 32:13 supposed to be Missouri, and that was discovered in Chiapas, Mexico, but it's also been spotted in the Dominican Republic, and Costa Rica. So it's kind of like a very close relative of philosophies up at the quorum, but it grows in much warmer, lower elevation, more tropical areas. But like second step into quorum, it's also a landslide, mushroom. So you find it in disturbed habitats, usually, like right next to a river or right next to a well traveled trail. And then if you're just in the middle of the forest, where there is no trail and no human disturbance, it's very rare. Alex 32:50 Yeah, we found not too many, I think we found like probably a dozen in total, but it was right by the path right by the farm area. So that that totally makes sense. Has anyone done any chemical analysis on on that species? Speaker 1 33:08 No chemical analysis has never been done and that species Alex 33:11 of that'd be fun to figure out what what it has, Speaker 1 33:15 is for most of the rarest philosophies, people generally do chemical analysis, the ones that can get a hold of, and, you know, something like this, that's only been seen a handful of times, generally, it's not been analyzed. Alex 33:30 And Mandy, I didn't I didn't get your answer of is there any species that you're hoping to find? Speaker 2 33:35 Just all the craziest cordyceps possible? I'd love to find like, just some crazy stick bug or like some wild like unidentified bug, like some bright colored bug or like, just some crazy, crazy Cordys apps that like no one's ever seen or photograph, which seems reasonable. It seems like it would be a quite a possibility to be able to find there. So in Speaker 1 34:05 fact, based on the DNA sequence results that we did last year, seems like none of the quarter steps that we're finding had been seen before. So it turns out quarter steps is extremely species rich. And every quarter steps kind of has its very picky about insect toasts. So a different species of ant or a different species of beetle will typically have a different pieces of quarter SOPs. So there are way more species of quarter steps than we have names for. And then this area is extremely diverse in quarter steps. You know, not a day goes by that we don't make several quarter steps collections. So it's, it's a really cool thing to study. And another reason the quarter steps are so interesting is because they make chemicals that tend to interface with humans and other animals a whole lot more often than just random mushrooms because a lot of these tortoise steps are, you know, trying to control the insects They're have these really intricate interactions with the animal world, and the insects and everything. And so they have to have really unique chemistry to do that. And so they're not just random and chemicals that are in quadriceps. They're like very specific molecules that have evolved along with some other organism for millions of years. Alex 35:23 Did y'all see that? ginormous cockroach on the collection table that was see through. Yeah, did you Did I think I was I noticed this. And I'm, I saw a story from Ali after the trip, and I think she still had that cockroach, but it had fungus on it. And I don't know if it was blueberry or metarhizium. But it just had like a little bit of fungus on the underside. And I spotted it and people like, Oh, I just thought it was a cool beetle. But yeah, it was hoping that would get analyzer or something. Speaker 1 36:01 Probably never turns green. So it's probably not clearly blueberry. Yeah, yeah, it both area. But I can tell you for sure that it did not get analyzed. And it never well, because it was still on the table when we last. Unknown Speaker 36:15 Left, no one grabbed it. Oh, I Alex 36:18 think Ali still has it because so maybe, maybe send her a text or something? Well, but I thought that was a super cool what if such a huge beetle or cockroach I've never seen something like that. And a quick aside, I'm really excited that I got to go on this trip. Because the first time I went to Ecuador was in like 2006, or something with my family. And long story short, my mom was working like 100 hour weeks, I barely saw her she was working corporate. And one night, we're on the Amazon River. And we looked up at the stars. And she said that God talked to her and told her to quit her job and spend more time at home. And so right after that first trip to Ecuador, she came home, quit her job, and spent more time with their family. And so like that, starting out, Ecuador is like really just a really magical special place just for our family. Then the second time I went for like four months. For a field study, I got close to credit for school. And we're going all around Ecuador studying different biodiversity and different ecosystems. And at that time, in 2015, I was I was like into mushrooms. But it wasn't like my full thing. I was also like, love plants and loved a bunch of other stuff. I was like growing hydroponics and all this stuff. And that trip was the first time I actually found a Cordis ups, or OFHEO quarter steps. And all these different species actually found one on a stick bug, which is really, really cool. And that actually, like got me into studying quadriceps and like down that rabbit hole, and also micro remediation of seeing like unlined pits of oil from oil companies. And so the second trip equally as profound in my life. And so just coming back was like a good reunion for me. And I was like, so glad to share it with you too, and, and everyone else on the trip. So I just wanted to like, I probably shared those stories sometime in some past episode, but I just wanted to like, let you know that Ecuador is a really special place in my heart. And it was like, just such a beautiful way to come back a third time. So thank you, like, generally, thank Speaker 2 38:40 God, you're so welcome. And also that's a really cute story about your mom. And I'd love to just use that as an opportunity to, to just say how magical The places. And I feel like you don't it's unable to be conceptualized before you go there. So we can mention it now. But stuff like that. Like when I wanted to go there, I was just pulled I was like, I have to go to Ecuador. I have to go to Ecuador. I gotta get Rachel to Ecuador, and I gotta go to Ecuador. And it just was like something I knew that I had to do. And that's like, always how I'm gonna think about it. And you know, just because Alan had gone there before. I was like, We gotta go. And I'd have no idea why. But when we're there, everything just clicks into place. And it's just, it just all works out. It's stuff you could have never planned beforehand. And it's it just really all works out how it's supposed to, but it's also extremely difficult to be there. Because while you're there, it's intense mentally and physically. It's exhausting hiking. It's also physically you're getting bit by everything. Um, you're, you know, struggling to breathe maybe sometimes if you're not used to the altitude, you're like, you know, going on no sleep, because you just stayed up photographing moths the night before, you know. So it's like, it's mentally and physically exhausting, and you have to really want to be there and work to be there. It's not super easy. It's not like just a Bougie, like, luxurious place. Um, but when you're there, I just feel like I overcome something like every single time I go both mentally and physically, I hit a limit. And then I am able to push beyond that. And it just like I, I came back a completely different person this time, like stuff I was worried about before I left, I was so worried about like, X, Y, and Z, before I left, and then I come back and I'm like, I just don't really care about those things anymore. Same, yeah, you got like, Alex 40:59 I think any jungle for me has that magic, you know, of just so much life concentrated in one place. But then everything you just said, I mean, I have the same experience my first few trips, and this last trip of yeah, it just brings up a lot, which can be beautiful. If if you have the container to hold it, and, like, be present for that much life coming up in your own being and then outside of your being, you know, Speaker 2 41:31 yeah, and get and then a lot of people I remember one person before the trip, emailed me and wanted to know, like, day by day, like rundown of what we were going to be doing, like every like, and then you saw when we were on the trip, we're like, okay, what are we going to do today? No way to plan that in advance. Like, it's like, it depends on the weather, the mood, the tiredness, like what people want to do, like, what people are feeling like, we try to make it like, really, depending on what the group is feeling. And not necessarily Well, we have to do this, this and this today, you know, I did it freaking presentation at 11 o'clock at night, on one of the last nights because that's just like was the good time to do it. So, um, you know, I left, that's another thing I love about it's just so in the moment. And if everybody wants to do this thing, then that's what we're gonna go do. Oh. Alex 42:33 And also that I feel like that's kind of the vibe of central South America is you. Just like timescales are a bit different than then typically what people in, say, North America, or, you know, other places in the world that might be more fast paced, or you need to break down minute by minute, you know, and, and it's just something that I've noticed, traveling a lot in central South America is like, when you have to be more spontaneous, but also, the timescales of stuff is just different. And to not, not be in this like, minute by minute, like calendar sort of mentality, because that's going to be distorted. And yeah, it's up to is it pouring rain right now? Like, okay, things are pushed back, like, the drivers later this a bubble? What, like things happen? And if you, if you can't go with the flow of it, it's gonna hurt a lot. So yeah, it's like a learning experience of letting go. For sure. Yeah. We went on a lot of night hikes. And with UV lights. And, Alan, I know, we talked about this a lot many years ago when you came on the podcast. But besides just being totally epic to look at, and one of my favorite parts of the trip was just not only mushrooms, but like the spiders that we saw the plants that like in. And, you know, I'm just curious, like, do the mushrooms that fluoresce? Do they tell you anything about the mushrooms at all, like certain compounds, or identification or anything like that? Speaker 1 44:24 The fluorescence is caused by chemicals in the mushroom that receive a higher energy photon from the ultraviolet light, and then re emit a lower energy photons in the visible spectrum. And there's a lot of different chemicals, you know, hundreds of 1000s of different fluorescent chemicals in nature. And so they tell you a lot about the chemistry of the mushroom. A lot of times, I won't know what a mushroom is, and I'll shine some UV light on it, and it'll light up a certain color and I'll say, oh, it's one of those and it'll either tell me exactly what species or it'll put it. into it genus for me. So yeah, the chemistry of a mushroom has a lot to do with what kind of mushroom it is. And the color you get from an ultraviolet light has a lot to do with the chemistry of the mushroom. Alex 45:12 I know Mandy, we're talking about the chemical assays. I don't know if I think you use to sell. I'm drawing a blank on on the two different chemical droppers that you can drop on mushrooms as well to make a chemical reaction. Yeah, what I'm talking about the Speaker 2 45:29 CMI dioxide. So yeah, I had potassium hydroxide is like a good general one. And then there's also ammonia and iron sulfate. So it's like a, all three of those, especially in North America, because like ammonia, and they're there that's like good for boletes. But I really think that the the chemical reagent reactions are I mean, for what, for how little we know about the stuff in North America? I think it's probably far even more unknown for South America. Did you notice any, like KLH reactions while we were down there, because Alan carries in Koh in his pocket. So Speaker 1 46:13 yeah, I mean, the key wage reaction or the lack of care, Qh reaction is really important for species identification and for documenting things. And, you know, a lot of like, the boletes will turn all sorts of crazy colors. And then some things you just wouldn't expect will turn colors and other things that are super brightly colored, and you would expect a reaction, you just don't get it. So like ultraviolet light, you know, the chemical tests are really unpredictable and surprising. And that's why it's important to do them. Speaker 2 46:43 I just didn't test anything while we were down there. Did you? Yeah. Okay, wait, Unknown Speaker 46:48 check a bunch of stuff. Unknown Speaker 46:49 Okay. What about the color various shapes, right? Unknown Speaker 46:52 That didn't have any change? Alex 46:56 Did we test UV light on that? Speaker 1 46:59 It didn't do hardly anything in UV either. And that's a pretty common thing I see in fungi is that if you have a really brightly colored mushroom 99 times out of 100, it will not do a bright Koh reaction, nor will it do a bright UV reaction. Whereas some of the more boring mushrooms, maybe something like Ursula, they will really light up. Alex 47:25 Is that to attract insects? Or do we know? Like, why the mushroom fluorescence fluoresces. Speaker 1 47:35 I don't think it couldn't be to attract insects, because there's no pure ultraviolet sources in nature, feel the sun has a matter of ultraviolet, but when you're getting sunlight, you're getting so much more white light than ultraviolet light, that it would, you know, hardly makes any difference. So I don't think there's any possible way that UV fluorescence could be a trait that's selected for or evolved for, it's more that mushrooms have 1000s of really interesting chemicals in them. And a lot of chemicals do fluoresce. So it's a reflection of the chemistry at the mushroom. Cool. Alex 48:09 And also, you know, you gave a photography course, which I learned a lot. I only got the first half, and then it went really late. And I was tired. So I went to bed. But I gotta recap that the next day and even just going on walks with you and you giving just like really helpful tips I thought was just really incredible. Like I didn't, I haven't used, I'm a terrible photographer. And I didn't even know, I knew my phone had like custom settings, but I never really used them until I was with you guys and messing with the aperture and, and things like that to make some really good photos really quickly and pretty easily. So I'm just curious if you want to give like an elevator pitch of some just like a couple really easy tricks that people can use at home, both with their phone, and maybe if they have a better camera, have, you know some some dirty tricks that maybe some some person might not know, but it's really easy to do. Speaker 1 49:20 Yeah, a lot of times when I'm with people and then we find some mushrooms and they take a picture of their phone and I look over at their phone and it's just not a very good picture. And so I'll borrow their phone for just a minute and take take the picture with their phone and unable to get really nice pictures. And the most important thing about cell phone photography is where you hold the phone. So when I find mushrooms, I kind of set them up a little bit. And then I set them up in such a way that the camera is designed to be at a certain angle and if we're kind of off to the side snapping a picture it's not going to look like it's supposed to. So you know holding the Phone in just the right spot is critical, it's usually as close as you can possibly hold it. Except that if you need more depth of field, then you can back the phone off and then use the digital zoom and you'll lose a little bit of resolution. But as long as you don't lose so much resolution, it starts to get pixelated, you can get a whole lot more depth of field out of a cellphone, especially with the modern sensors that has had to have a really large megapixel count, you can back it off pretty far and get a lot of you know, close things and fire thing in focus at once. Whereas if it was really close, it would be like that. Also, if the mushroom is pretty small, or it's you know, any small object like an insect, what you do is get the phone as close as you possibly can until it gets blurry. And then you back the phone off until it gets crystal clear on the screen. And then you use the digital zoom to make the objects fill the screen. And that's the best thing that you can, you know the best job you can do with with that particular camera on the little object. And then the third thing that a lot of people don't realize about the cell phones is that the exposure compensation is critical. And usually if you're taking a picture of a dark, with a dark background, and a lighter colored mushroom, which is very often the case, it will overexposed the mushroom, because the phone is metering the light for the whole scene. So whenever you have like dark leaves, and then a lighter colored mushroom in front of that, if you can lower the exposure compensation. And that's one feature that's really easy to do both iPhone and Android cameras, then you can not blow out the highlights and get a really nice photo. And that's even more critical to do with ultraviolet photography. So if you're just holding a black light flashlight, and you take a picture with a cell phone, almost always the colors will be completely blown out because it's night out and the cameras going to try to meter the light for the night. So if you lower the exposure compensation quite a bit, all of a sudden, all of these colors come out that were not visible before you do that. And this is something that takes you know, less than a second to do. But it's completely changes, you know, a really mediocre photo and do a spectacular photo. By Speaker 2 52:15 lower the exposure compensation. He just means like tap on it and then drag the sun down, or is it like down on an iPhone or like left I think on an Android phone. So you just like yeah, that it's like right there on the screen. If you just drag it down a little bit, then yeah, the color starts to pop out, and it's much nicer looking. Speaker 1 52:39 And then conversely, if you have a dark mushroom with a lighter background, that's the case, if you have like a black earth tun for example, then you always need to raise the exposure compensation. So you know, since the exact opposite the we do usually, and all of a sudden, instead of your dark mushrooms looking like shadows, you can see all of the textures and different shades of black that are in that mushroom. Alex 53:02 Yeah, those two tips I used of both going to 2x Zoom, that, you know, for macro photography, going as close as I can backing off a little bit than 2x zooming, and then bringing down the exposure a little bit, just that alone, my pictures were like four times better. I mean, the iPhone cameras do a pretty good job. And they've gotten so much better over the years. But even those two switches, compared to just like the auto, you know, photo function, they were huge for me. We talked a lot and this is the first time I've ever heard it was on this trip, the idea of photo stacking, which I thought was the coolest concept. If people haven't heard of that concept before, can you give kind of like a brief overview of what what photo stacking is Speaker 1 53:57 photo stacking bends the laws of physics by combining multiple photos into one final image. And these multiple photos are taken at slightly different focal depths. So you know a lot of a lot of what I do is put a camera with a macro lens really close to something and then the camera will automatically take 100 pictures, changing the depth of field just changing the focal depth just a little bit by using the autofocus on the lens. And then I'll get 100 pictures and I can combine them all using software like hillicon Or is it green into one image. And that's really good because you know for the smaller something is the less depth of field you get. So for a really tiny mushroom, it's pretty difficult or impossible to get it all into focus at the same time. So by combining 100 pictures, you can have as much depth of field as you want. At the same time you can keep the aperture wide open, so the background is super blurry and it makes the subject really stand out from the background. If the, you know, the subject is razor sharp and the background is really creamy and blurry, it just makes it makes your eye jump right to the subject. Alex 55:13 Yeah, it to me, it transforms like a really flat image, like pictures without photo stacking, like macro pictures, they're good. But they just feel a little flat to me. And then after photo stacking, I mean, it just looks right out of National Geographic, like those just amazing photos that the subject just pops out of the screen. And it's super high def and, and everything that you want to look at just look super high definition and crazy. And I thought that was the coolest concept. I've never heard of that before this trip. And watching you and you know, Ben from Canada and other people watching them, like, do photo stacking in real time was really really cool to watch just like this picture before it was really good. But then after they did photo stacking it was like, Oh my God, that's just the next level photo. Like that's honestly could be the cover of National Geographic like how amazing it is. So for people who haven't heard of that, definitely look into it. Because it definitely makes a difference. I yeah, I think that's such a cool concept. Yeah, Speaker 2 56:23 so Ben, the reason he was so great at that is because he took a week long course with Alan and Madeline Ireland last year on photography. So he was like, just using all these cool, you know, techniques that Alan Hutton Allyson Pollock had taught him last year. And I'm so I have to say, I mean, it was less than a year ago that he started doing it. And I told him, I was like, your photos have improved so much like he is like really killing it with the photos. And I also want to mention his girlfriend, Audrey. So Ben is like super into mushrooms. And then Audrey is like, just came along on the trip because like Ben was super into it. But she's still said it was like one of the best trips of her entire life. So Alex 57:14 I love both of them so much. Like, we're Yeah, they're they're two people from that trip that I'm like, I'm friends for life. Like they're, we got along so well. I've loved them so much. They're such great humans. I'm bringing Ben on the podcast for sure. Yeah, talking about Chaga and all Yeah, he's he's brilliant. Yeah, he's, he's insanely smart. And the best. Speaker 2 57:39 Yeah, come with us. We're gonna go I think we're gonna go back to Wisconsin dude. Like, because it's right. Across from where he lives in Canada. You should come with us, I think in like early September or the end of August or something. Because, yeah, he's so fun to go there. And you get to see the chart in person. Yeah, nope. Find it again. So was Alex 58:01 that both of your first time seeing the chaga fruiting body in the while? Unknown Speaker 58:07 Uh huh. Alex 58:08 That's so cool. Speaker 2 58:09 And, you know, it's just, it's just a flat surface against a tree. So I wouldn't have even known what it was. Yeah, Alex 58:15 it's very, like nonchalant. Yeah, this sclerotia is very in your face. But the fruiting bodies just kind of literally behind the curtain. You know, behind the behind the bark are Yeah. Speaker 2 58:30 Yeah, it's really wild. It's just like a white poor surface, like rather soup in it. Just against the underneath side of the bark. And I mean, the dude was almost crying when he found it. He was so excited, like, so if anyone wants to watch the video, it's on our mycelium media channel. The Chaga video have been fine. You know, this Chaga research or finding the chaga fruiting body? He was I've never seen someone so just ecstatic. He was like crying. Alex 58:59 Yeah, I gotta watch that after this. For sure. I haven't seen it. Yeah. So you, you collected all the species. And I know we're dehydrating a bunch and labeling things. You went to the Keto, Hungarian after the trip? How? How was that? How was the process of did you have to sign up for a permit? And, you know, how was that experience? And yeah, what's it like working with the Hungarian, the permits Speaker 1 59:29 are pretty easy because we were working with the Hungarian. So we weren't able to get permits to get all of our collections into the Hungarian and keto. And, you know, I don't know how much paperwork the other people had to do behind the scenes. All I had to do is fill out a spreadsheet with a bunch of information on each collection. And then they were able to get a transportation permit and get it into the herbarium. So yeah, once we started doing it, it was it was really quite easy. But you know, herbarium is is really neat, because they have, you know, cabinet after cabinet after cabinet of mushrooms, and even more cabinets full of plants. And so it's like a library for dried plants and mushrooms. And, you know, you can look up just about any kind of organism on Earth and go there and find samples of it. You know, sometimes you go into these places, and there'll be some samples that were collected 100, even 200 years ago to pop them onto the microscope. And, you know, often they look under the microscope, like they were just collected, like, you know, just that day they inherently aged on with our drive. But, you know, the coolest thing about the herbarium process is that we were with a researcher named Camilo and he is going to do DNA barcoding on all of our collections using nanopore. So he's going to run PCR and everything, feed all the PCR products into a nanopore following the protocol that Stephen Russell helped work on. And then we'll get sequence data for all of these and all of that will go into GenBank. So this kind of data is really necessary for South America, we've been doing it for a while at North America recently, really ramping up the volume of samples. And now we have a pretty good idea how many mushrooms are in North America, how many are new species, that range of all of these different species, whereas South America is just a black box, there's very little sequencing been done in South America at the sequencing that has been done is, you know, goes along with research papers. So maybe there was a ganoderma researcher, and they'll sequence a bunch of ganoderma and put it in GenBank. And, you know, that's really helpful for the things that they studied. But for most things, you blast a sequence from South America, and it just does not have any matches. But what it will tell you even if there's no matches as to what the closest match is, so if we have no idea what genus or family or something is in once we blast it all of a sudden have a very good idea where it belongs genetically. But it's really the 100% matches that are the most interesting, because then we know this exact exact species occurs in this other place. And knowing that is this like, really instrumental for figuring out which names to apply to each collection, and what the chemicals that these collections might contain, and Speaker 2 1:02:26 the distribution in the world of where you know, where these things are super important. Speaker 1 1:02:35 So the data that we're generating here will be in GenBank, forever. So, you know, in 50 years, when people do have a pretty good idea of what's going on in South America, as far as fungi, that there'll be using these reference sequences that we're generating to figure out what they have. Speaker 2 1:02:54 Yeah, and I have to say, I feel like so you, I, you're the most like, positive part of person I've ever met. I swear to God, but I'm so uptight, like me that seem like I'm, like, Alan, that we were that there's like all these fungi there, but it's really like flats. Um, it's like, 99% It's gotta be like, like this herbarium. It really isn't herbarium and like a little fun, barium. It's, um, it's just one little cabinet of fungi and the whole thing. It's a fungi. Well, it's like one section in the very back. It's like a really tiny section in the very back, which just is all has the fungi in it. And then everything else is either like plants or mosses or whatever. So yeah, it's just compared to the rest of the herbarium. It's like almost nothing. So like, we really have our work cut out for us down there. And I feel like just from what I know about talking to the other researchers, there's really not that many other mycologists coming down to Ecuador to do long term studies, to other ones that are in the mycology community that are did recent work that we saw a bunch of their vouchers in the herbarium were Rue Vandergrift and Danny Newman. So you know, I've always looked up to them, and they had some really great work down there. But there's just so much there just really is so much more work to be done on fungi. So I just wanted to like, kind of put that into perspective that there's just for there's probably more fungi then plants down in the Amazon, like just period in general. Um, and there's like, just so many more plants in that are better barium. And yeah, we're just really lucky to be in contact with them. And Rosa, the head of the Fung Areum, she had sent two of her students to our foray, one of them was Camilo. And one of them was Daniel, and they, um, they really loved it, you know, we treated them just like any other foreign participant. And, yeah, they loved it. So they were, the one of them is gonna, you know, do us a service and run all of our stuff from last year and this year. So I'm just really excited about the herbarium we specifically went there and took a day out of our time, after, you know, before we left to visit there, and we help them like fold the page like these, all the samples are just contained in paper. So we just they just specific folded paper, like, it's kind of crazy. There's no like, like, air conditioning or anything either. Like it's just like samples in paper. So it's kind of wild. And I think there's so much more room for us to be adding stuff. So I can't wait to go back. Honestly. I'd like to go back. I Alex 1:06:25 actually remember from your episode, there's so many years ago, so I can't remember. But you were remember you were hyped about some sort of new desiccant. And you're like, oh, when we next meet, I'm gonna give you a bunch of this desiccant that I'm like, hyped about do you know, do you remember what I was talking Speaker 2 1:06:44 about? Yeah, just like, I wanted people to start saving samples and desiccant. Um, because like, I feel like it. So and then yeah, we left in the Keto herbarium. They don't, they don't really it's like, either expensive, or they just can't get it down there. So we just left them with a bunch of desiccant that we had used to dry our samples out. Because they just don't really use that kind of stuff down there. But it's pretty important if you want, especially if you're in a high moisture environment to keep this stuff like the moisture out of this stuff. So yeah, I just I mean, oh, God, I've come so far from that time to Now there must have been like, it really was like, must have been like, what's it when did you start the park was like 2018? Alex 1:07:34 Um, yeah. 20, either 2018 or the beginning of 2019. Okay. Speaker 2 1:07:39 Yeah, because that was like around the time because I saw you at new moon, um, mycology summit in 2018. And that was like around, so it feels Alex 1:07:51 like two lifetimes ago. Speaker 2 1:07:56 Um, I know, I hadn't seen you in so long, bro. I'm like, just so happy. I'm just so happy to be back in contact with you. I'm just so proud of you. And like, you know how much stuff you've done. And we talked about this. We had a whole three hour Fireside Chat. Alex 1:08:13 Oh, that was great. Yeah. And I'm looking forward to more because I'll see you at Telluride and then all things fungi fest, and potentially other places, which is exciting. And um, I'm curious, you know, we talked a little bit about this pre recording, but, you know, if, obviously, you guys travel a ton. And he, this Ecuador trip is a really good success. Do you have any other places or trips in mind any brainstorming with that? Speaker 2 1:08:49 I think the place where we were just at in Colombia was really awesome. That's Cloudforest. And the, I mean, that that venue that we were we stayed was like, really cool. Speaker 1 1:09:00 Yeah, that venue is pretty nice. You know, surrounded by Cloudforest. Not too far from the Bogota airport. And, you know, had some nice cabins and places for people to stay, and then camping room for quite a few people as well. So that would be a really good place to do it. I'd really like to lead some forays in Canada. And Vancouver Unknown Speaker 1:09:24 Island. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Totally. Speaker 1 1:09:28 Really cool. Because there's so many amazing mushrooms in Asia. Yeah, Unknown Speaker 1:09:32 I've never been to Asia either. And I would love to go Alex 1:09:35 to a big place where we're in Asia, are you thinking Speaker 1 1:09:40 Malaysia would be really nice place. You know, there's a lot of species of mushrooms described from Java. So for example, we've all heard of stereo in Australia. But that one was described from that part of the world and there's just like a lot of names that we use that probably We were Miss applying them. And so we have to go to these places make a collection and DNA sequence them to see if we're actually using these names in the correct way. Well, Alex 1:10:09 one of my best friends is Malaysian. So if you ever go let me know, I could probably hook you up with various connections. So yeah, I am dying to go to Malaysia as well. That'd be a really fun place. Speaker 2 1:10:22 I don't even know. Like, it's hard for me to even conceptualize like Malaysia like where it is. And like, I guess, you know, geography is not my best skill. But, but yeah, I feel like, you know, are really another cool place to be to go, which has crazy mushrooms is like Mongolia. Yeah. Yeah. Like and then also. And I know, we have some sort of opportunity, maybe next summer possibly to go to Nepal with Hamilton from Hamilton Alex 1:10:54 extract. So sweet. Speaker 2 1:10:56 Super cool guy shout out to Hamilton and also his brother Alex 1:11:00 makes the best Telluride costumes. Yeah, so good. Yeah, he's such a, he's such a really nice guy. It's really, it's such a blessing. And just going back to our group dynamics and things like that. It's, it's such a blessing to go to these events, either festivals or whatever, and just meet people equally as hyped up. And they're just genuinely good people. You know, it's not every mushroom person out there. There's some bad apples everywhere. Obviously, we're human beings. But the mushroom community is pretty good. And I hear people all the time that come from maybe a different community, they're like cannabis or, you know, business or whatever. And they they go to one of these events, and they're like, kind of wigged out a little bit. And they're like, everyone's really nice like this. This is so weird, you know? And it's like, yeah, this is, it's a really lucky community, to have just people just like hyped about nature and willing to help and willing to help for free and just kind of all collaborate together. It's just like a really wholesome thing that brings a lot of hope back into humanity for me, just like going to these events and seeing how how. Yeah, just like collaborative people are and, and willing to help people out out of the kindness of their heart, just like not expecting anything in return. So Speaker 2 1:12:30 for sure, how do you feel about that? I agree. Yeah. I love I love the people that, you know, it's like, you, you hear and you see these people, and they're like, yeah, just got sucked in, bro. And I was like, Yeah, that was me, like years ago. And it's just like, people just get sucked in. And then it's like a funnel. And then they're in it. And this was like, I like, you know, wasn't VAs shit. And they're just, you know, in the twister, and then you eat just, you're sucked in, like, and the community. You know, I know. And there's definitely drama that happens in the community. So it's not like the most perfect community in the world. But nothing is, but I know also that like, there is these shining, you know, golden threads. And like these moments that people have that would have never been possible without mushrooms. And I did, I literally heard like, two or three people on our trip, just this Ecuador trip, say that it was just one of the most like the best trips they've ever had in their life. And I was just like, wow, that is like really great. That's, that's why I would do something like this. Like, it's not like, the Ecuador trip, and the other and the Mexico trip and all that. Like, none of that is like really paying our bills for the whole year or anything. Like it's like it really is, you know, that's why we're doing it. It's to connect these people show them these fundamental things about photography. Mushrooms, collections, what's possible biodiversity. Yeah, and I just feel really lucky that I get to do that. So it's really really cool. Alex 1:14:29 And on the on the flip side, what would you say is the hardest part of your work? felon? Unknown Speaker 1:14:42 Um, I don't think there are any hard parts. Alex 1:14:48 Yeah, I had a feeling now and you would say that I think you're one of the most brilliant mycologist but also I feel like you The level of flow that you have just seeing your work in your element, it seems like you kind of like never have a bad day. And it seems like no matter how much work you're doing, you're always willing to help out anyone in front of you. And it's just like really sweet to see that level of passion and just ease in and just like loving what you do and willing to help out everyone around you. So keep doing it, please. Speaker 1 1:15:30 It's really all about perspective. Like when something really goes wrong. I'm like, Oh, my gosh, that's hilarious. into an amazing day, whereas if the same thing happened to someone else, they would be like, Oh, my God, this is like the end of the world. I can't believe my car broke down 100 miles from the nearest person or something like that. And just like, wow, that's so funny. Speaker 2 1:15:57 Man, yeah, always like that. Not naturally like that. But he's a good Olympic mirror for me to be around. I think, you know, like, there's definitely some stuff you can laugh at, there's definitely a lot of stuff that is just absolutely ridiculous. But then there's some other shit that especially I've dealt with this year, that's been really, really hard. And I'm definitely the person that will show emotions and everyone's gonna know if I'm not having a good time or whatever. But I think being around Alan has helped me kind of regulate a little bit better, and like a little bit more, and I just have, you know, I have like, a lot of trauma and a lot of PTSD and like, all this shit, just like OCD and threat because I met you two months after my brother died, right? So it was like, right when I got into the mushroom community, like it was like, the hardest time of my life. And yeah, just getting over that has been a super big challenge for me. And then a lot of interpersonal like relationship challenges. A lot of times when you're leveling up in life, you have to kind of leave people behind. So that kind of experience that a lot this year, and like in the in the past year, and yeah, just like moving forward and feeling good about the people that are in my life and especially Alan and just Yeah, keeping that good kind of just like good perspective and like positive outlook on it. Um, and yeah, just trying to laugh and be enjoying life because we're really not here for very long at all. It's just so friggin short of a life and and then mushrooms are very involved with life and death and the cycles and like rebirth and it's just a constant reminder of you know, the work that I do is like constantly reminding me of like, you know, transform basically transform or perish you know? Alex 1:18:16 So I put this little story in the group chat I don't know if you saw it but I had a really funny experience coming back through Miami customs I showed the guy passport and he scans it and immediately he goes Oh Alex door They're waiting for you downstairs like oh boy and follow a follow this you know police officer like all around the airport finally get to this like secrets place in the basement. And there's like three people grilling me with questions. I'm packing all my bag and, and, you know, like, I have nothing to hide and I've learned after? Yeah, I feel like I'm definitely on a list and every single time I travel they they pull me aside and they inspect my bag and do all this stuff. And and, you know, I I've actually like had to have a longer layovers because of it. And, but they're asking, you know, I was pretty transparent, like I was on a mushroom trip and hiking in the jungle and blah, blah, blah. And I feel like I made their day. By the end of it. They were really hyped about it. And they're like, Oh, I guess I gotta try functional mushrooms and like all this stuff and joking about like, mushrooms that can make them see elves and stuff like that and like, but I'm curious, like, do you have the same experience? Traveling and No, Speaker 2 1:19:45 no. We came we were actually like, a little bit like, Oh, we're definitely gonna get stopped because we're coming back from Colombia. And we hadn't we had we went from Ecuador to Colombia with nothing. Colombia to JFK with nothing. And then just like JFK to San Francisco. Just no one said anything to us. So, again, it's we were traveling when they anything illegal, but like, yeah, it was not like that at all. I'm kind of shocked. And then, you know, I saw also that Megan got hassled, and they took her palo santo from Alex 1:20:25 quite a few people got stopped and searched. Yeah, yeah. I don't. I'm surprised, like, especially you, Alan, I feel like with all the work that you do is philosophy and identification. They, that you're, yeah, they wouldn't stop you. But maybe they're like, Oh, he's doing everything by the book, you know, he's good. Speaker 1 1:20:44 Well, I think, you know, it's important to know how law enforcement works. And, you know, when they don't have investigation, then they don't have an investigation. And they're not just going to pick somebody for custom screening, just because they post a bunch of philosophy photos online. You know, it's, it's different how they develop investigations. And that's, that could be the whole subject of the subject of a whole other podcast. But yeah, long story short, we're not on any lists. Alex 1:21:16 That's good. Yeah, that's awesome. I hopefully this time around, they maybe kicked me off the list because he was writing report forever. And I was joking with him. And I was just like, alright, is that you know, so hopefully, it'll be good from here on out, but God, Speaker 2 1:21:33 I hope so. That's like, really annoying, because I would just be like more, because you're already at the airport. You're like, Alright, I got it. You know, like, it's always like a thing. Like, I gotta get this. I gotta make sure I gotta pee. I gotta get my snack. I gotta get on the plane what time was abort? Warning? Like, and it's like, you know, to add like, Okay, I gotta go like to the backroom and like, explain functional modules ism. random dudes like, seems like it be. Alex 1:22:01 Yeah. But again, Alan, kind of like what you're talking about. I just, it's like, funny, and it makes for a good story. And like, my last, I feel like my last big travel was to Panama. And I came back the same thing took me in the back room, whatever. And, by the end of it, the guy was like, really hyped about mushrooms. And he's like, oh, I want to listen to the mushroom revival podcasts, like, all my shift that I was like, Yes. Like, that's awesome. Like to get someone in the beginning, when they're, like really uptight. And you know, they're doing their job. And by the end of the conversation, they're, like, totally opened up. And they probably made their day. Like, they're like, Who's this weird dude into mushrooms? He like, you know, and I've never, you know, probably never heard anyone that they have ever stopped into mushrooms. And by the end of it, hopefully opened up that rabbit hole or that Whirlpool that you were talking about? So, yeah, I think I think it's, I think it's good an excuse to have more conversations about much mushrooms, the better. You know, yeah, absolutely. Speaker 1 1:23:02 And, you know, the job of a law enforcement officer is extremely boring, you know, just like looking for investigate the date, just like looking for leads day after day after day. It's, you know, it gets really monotonous really quick. So if you can provide some entertainment to the law enforcement officers, they are going to love you and just make their day. Also, it's their job to get you talking. So they'll use whatever kind of tactics they can, they'll pretend to be interested. Maybe they really are. Maybe there's trying to get you talk, but, but if you don't talk to them, then you're not going to be providing any evidence against yourself. And usually, when people really open up to law enforcement, they provide all sorts of evidence against themselves. So that is what they really want to do is get you talking. And, you know, half the time I go into these situations, and I am like, you know, I don't talk to the police. And I just don't say anything to them. And I don't take any of their bait and they just have to let me go. The other half of the time, I'm like, oh, man, these guys really got me. And if I say nothing right here, I'm definitely going to jail. And so that's when I start, you know, talking about mushrooms like crazy. And then they're like, you know, this guy's All right, like, maybe these are illegal mushrooms. Maybe not, but this is pretty entertaining. He doesn't seem like he's gonna be as a threat and then let you go for that reason. Alex 1:24:26 I love that. So, Mandy, you answer this question earlier in the episode, but I curious Alan, if you had unlimited funds, team time, resources, equipment, etc. What would you do and why? I Speaker 1 1:24:44 would start a company where I collect mushrooms from all around the world and have a team of 10 people and I would have three chemists running mass spec and NMR and come But people culturing all the mushrooms, a couple of people doing microscopy on all the mushrooms and a couple of people doing DNA sequencing. So with a team of 10 people, I can publish a lot of new species that I find and discover all sorts of useful molecules that were in these mushrooms, not just medicines and drugs, while those certainly would be some. But just like other molecules, there's all sorts of molecules that are just really, really expensive to produce. But mushrooms produce them really inexpensively. So they'd be useful in all sorts of processes, you know, from manufacturing dyes and enzymes to new medicines that just, you know, all these sorts of unique things are in the mushrooms. And I find so many mushrooms and so many new species, and, you know, I don't have a chance to study any of them really in great depth. So that's, that's what I would do is have a team of 10 people studying all the mushrooms I find, Alex 1:25:57 I really hope it happens Speaker 2 1:26:01 to be awesome. I mean, bio prospecting is basically the the term for what Elon was just talking about his bio prospecting. And it's like, I mean, I've always that's always been appealing to me as well. Um, I mean, it's just like, a dream to be able to analyze the, the Molot molecular profile of some, especially something like the cornice ups like, God, that would be so cool. Yeah, I would love to, that would be like a real long term, goal and dream. And then just like, yeah, publish more stuff and get more papers out and have people that are really creative, credentialed working with us, but not have to work or be reliant on grants for anything in academia would be awesome. So I don't know exactly how we would go about making that happen. But like paying a team of 10 people to do all that stuff, but without grants, but maybe there's some angel investors here in the Bay Area, that would be like, Yeah, we like really want you guys to do that. We probably get a lot of work done and a lot of stuff done, but no one's really throwing money at that kind of stuff, at least, that I know of. Although it could be beneficial for a multitude of industries. Oh, Alex 1:27:36 yeah. I mean, even you know, like you're talking about we are drugs from Cordis apps like a serious and clarify that grows on a cicada. They found a multiple I think it's multiple sclerosis drug from that. And it it's a billion dollar drug yearly. So yeah, weird fungus growing on insects and weird places can Yeah, could be billions of dollars in revenue, and other people would just kind of pass it by. Yeah, and even beyond just like medicine, there's biomaterials, there's a million other cool things that we're doing with, with fungi now. And I think like every, we need more fun games. And we need more people going out in the field, collecting fungi, documenting them sequencing them storing them properly. But also that next step of just analyzing what what's inside what, what, what cool compounds are inside of these, what what can they do? Yeah, I think more more people should be doing that. Because fungi have, they're not the you know, they're not the golden chalice that has all the answers but they they have a lot of answers for a lot of our world problems. And I think the more we can partner with fungi, the better. And with that, what where can people follow your work? And are you what events are you going to this year coming up and yeah. Speaker 2 1:29:14 So we have a platform called My Sina media. And we are pretty much on every social media channel under my Sina media except for Facebook where it's just called my Sina um and so we have that and then we have my Instagram which is at Mandy Park and then Alan's which is at Alan Rockefeller. And then there's a so many Facebook groups and stuff that he has, I don't know what else you want to say about that. Speaker 1 1:29:48 Yeah, I'm on all the social medias, even the ones like Twitter and LinkedIn, blue sky, and probably a couple others that people have never heard of yet, but yeah, Oh, maybe we'll be big, big once meta falls. And just like people can email me at my name, Gmail is a good way to get a hold of me. And as far as events go, there's quite a few coming up. I think there's this Oregon, microbiological society morale foray. That's going to be Oh, let's see, I think that's a really May. And then then speaking at the McLeod mushroom Festival at Mount Shasta, that's always a really cool thing. And there's Telluride mushroom festival where I'm teaching a mushroom photography class. And Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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