Mushrooms on Madagascar with Mauro Rivas-Ferreiro

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Mushrooms on Madagascar with Mauro Rivas-Ferreiro

 

Today we take a trip to Madagascar with Mauro Rivas-Ferreiro to discover the biodiversity of fungi on the island. From mycorrhizal fungi to more, we talk optimal ecosystems, rare plants, and future research needed on the island.

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Unknown Speaker 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 world of mushrooms and fungi. We bring on guests and experts from all around the world to geek out with us and go down this mysterious rabbit hole of all things, mushrooms and fungi. So today we have Morrow joining us from Q funk Areum. And, yeah, why don't you introduce yourself, tell tell the audience what you're up to in this weird fungal world. Hello, Alex, thank you very much for that introduction. So, ya know, I'm a PhD student, currently between the University of Bordeaux in Spain, where I reside most of the time. And then from time to time I come to the Royal Botanic Gardens queue to the barium and diverse labs that they have here. To work on mushroom taxonomy. They do a lot of molecular work a lot of DNA. And yeah, just trying to help with that enormous task that is describing the fungal biodiversity. Unknown Speaker 1:23 I really need to go it's on my It's on my bucket list for sure. I don't I don't go to Europe that often. And so it's just not really. Unknown Speaker 1:34 Yeah, it's pretty far away. Unknown Speaker 1:37 I don't go to that part of the world that often. But I'm, I potentially might be moving to Portugal, we'll see the way the universe works out. So I'll be a bit closer. Unknown Speaker 1:49 Not too close, but but a bit closer than I am now. And so yeah, I will definitely stop by one day. One of these years. I'll get over there. But how did how did you first get into fungi and mushrooms. Unknown Speaker 2:02 I mean, I feel like it's it's the same story as most people I really not my foraging family. We used to go out in autumn, and pick up mostly porcine, and parasol mushrooms. Unknown Speaker 2:20 And that's kind of how I started. It's kind of a common thing to do here, well between Spain Unknown Speaker 2:26 in the weekend in autumn, and at the beginning, I was super into it, then you get that rush when you find your first mushroom and when you find the second use feel the same. And it's it just goes from there. And I joined a couple of talks that my local association was given. And then I joined the why I started my bachelor's degree in Biology at the University of people. And I joined a couple of workshops that the lab at the mycology lab was giving the university extracurricular kind of workshops and mushroom identification. And with time, I went from being a student to being the teacher of those workshops, which is what I'm doing now. And yeah, all thanks to Dr. Melissa Castro, who just took me and many, many others under her wing, Unknown Speaker 3:23 mycology wing. And yeah, I pretty early in that kind of myco logical career. I knew I wanted to pursue a PhD. So that is what I'm doing now. Amazing. And where we're in Spain. Did you grow up? In Galicia? It's literally northern to Portugal. Like it's right on top of Portugal. Yes. Northwestern area. So a lot of forests. Nice. Awesome. Cool. Unknown Speaker 3:52 Yeah, I was actually surprised. I didn't know how much fungal diversity was in Portugal. And I'm sure that they, you know, Spain and Portugal. Were a lot. Unknown Speaker 4:05 But yeah, I was looking at I naturalist and I was like, Oh, wow. cordsets militaris grows there natively, and tons of porcine and chanterelles and all these things that I just didn't expect. I don't know. I've never been there. So I just I didn't know what to expect. But I wasn't I wasn't I'll tell you. I wasn't expecting that. So that's really awesome. Unknown Speaker 4:26 Are your So you grew up forging with your parents grandparents as well? No, actually, that happens here as well. The our generation the grandparents generation usually is very micro phobic. Unknown Speaker 4:41 Oh really? Yeah. That's a whole thing with the church and then you know, factors going on. Also people used to think that Unknown Speaker 4:51 eating mushrooms was poor people thing. Unknown Speaker 4:55 Even poor, you didn't want to be seen eating mushrooms and Unknown Speaker 5:00 Wow. Yeah. It's so funny, like, from country to country how the Yes, culturally it shifts, you know, and yeah, I talked to a lot of people from from Europe and and it's like, oh, my, you know, went out with my grandparents and that was like such a thing. And it was it was almost like honorable or a just. Yeah, it is so funny. certain places are extremely myco phobic, or even generation to generation that's so interesting how it relates to religion and class and yet, yeah, within Spain, there is a lot of diversity on how different colors or different Spanish communities approach mycology, there is communities that really love mushrooms and have been going out for centuries. And then others like Alicia, where we have such a diversity of mushrooms, but until very recently, we really didn't want anything to do with them. People kick them and they destroy them, because they were seeing as like this thing, those devilish and yeah, wow. So what? Unknown Speaker 6:09 Are your grandparents still alive? Or is it just? Yeah, some of them? Yeah, yeah. Okay. And do they know what you do? Yeah. Yeah, they do. I mean, my reaction, they trust me. They, they, they, they know they have a Unknown Speaker 6:25 grandson that is not too crazy. So Unknown Speaker 6:29 they trust that they know what I'm doing. Yeah. And your parents? What do they what is their relationship with fungi? Oh, yeah. No, they, I mean, they only know about edible mushrooms. Yeah, most, most of the things they know. But but my, my dad is really interested in it. He comes to some of my talks. He is also interested on the ecology side of things. And he just recently he planted some chestnut trees. And he was looking into how to Unknown Speaker 7:04 provide Ecto mycorrhizal inoculum Unknown Speaker 7:08 Yeah, you know, those kinds of things. Yeah. It's, it's, he's interested on it as well in my mom as well. Yeah. That's awesome. Okay, so we're bopping around from the UK to Spain. And then we're gonna let's take a trip to Madagascar. How did you get involved in in the fungal diversity, discovery of Madagascar? In that project? I mean, pretty much like everything in life, I stumbled upon it. Unknown Speaker 7:38 I, I decided like this, this crazy thing, that instead of starting a PhD, I wanted to do a second master's degree during the pandemic. So I came to the UK to study the MSc in plant and fungal taxonomy at Kew. And which is, it's very unique because there's no other masters in the world that tackles fungal, fungal taxonomy and diversity and conservation like this one. So I just, I got a scholarship hopped into the opportunity. And as soon as I got here, I started sending emails. I want to do my project in mushrooms in funghi. Unknown Speaker 8:20 Anything I don't care about the theme I don't I want to do it in mycology and the louder Martina sooth, who now is my my PhD supervisor. She offered me this project that they have. They started it in 2012. And it's one of those projects that never get around to finishing. So she just told me yeah, you have these, these DNA sequences, we are in epidemic, we cannot go to the lab, we I cannot touch the mushrooms, I cannot come to the vulgarian I need to work from home. So she had these sequences. And she just sent them to me and we started there. Then the project evolved into much, much more much hardcore project. But yeah, that was kind of the start of Madagascar of my journey. Unknown Speaker 9:10 And I've heard Madagascar like a lot of islands out there, that the evolution of of Unknown Speaker 9:21 different organisms on these islands are pretty isolated. And so I'm just curious, are there any fungi on there that had been discovered to only exist on Madagascar? Oh, yeah. Yeah. So Madagascar has this geological history that is very, very interesting. When you start reading about it. It's being kind of isolated to a certain extent for Unknown Speaker 9:49 a minimum of 70 million years, which in geological time is a lot. It's a lot of time alone. And even though it's close to Africa, Unknown Speaker 10:00 As the currents and the winds, and all of that really prevents genetic exchange between the continent and the island, so not only funghi, but plants and animals have been isolated for a long time and you see these branches of the tree of life that are unique and endemic to Madagascar. Unknown Speaker 10:20 So yeah, in our study, we found out that about two thirds of the overall fungal diversity is endemic to Madagascar. So we found like 600 Something taxa have DNA in the databases, and of those more than 400 are Yeah, can only be found in Madagascar. Unknown Speaker 10:44 Yeah, there is a lot of there is a lot of fungal endemism. And if you if you study Ecto mycorrhizal fungi in particular that jumps to 81%, I believe. So, yes. It's normal that Ecto mycorrhizal fungi you have to evolve with their host. And if there is a lot of hosts that are endemic to Madagascar, it makes sense that there is a lot of funghi that are also endemic. Right, right. And, Unknown Speaker 11:09 and of these plants as as anyone studied the endophytic fungi of these plants, I know there's not that many researchers out there studying FIDIC fungi. But I would assume if the plants are only endemic to Madagascar, they would have some crazy fungi inside the cell walls, right? I'm sure I actually cannot tell you exactly. They're studying in the Vitek funghi. Probably Probably in the grasses and specifically in the crops. They're probably studying some of those. But I mean, I can tell you that there is a lot of endemic taxa from species, plant species from Madagascar, that we don't even know if they are ectomycorrhizal or not, if they have mycorrhizal roots, we expect them to have them because they belong to clades to groups of species that are ectomycorrhizal. So it just makes sense that those particular species are also at the micro level. But yeah, there is a lot to explore there. And these species most of the time are in very difficult areas to get to. So yeah, it's one of the things that we want to do actually in the field trip to Madagascar that we hopefully will do next year is go to ESA or national national park and go to specific area where this endemic and endangered species monitors madagascariensis gross and assess its mycorrhizal status because it's a species that is rapidly declining. We don't know how long it has Unknown Speaker 12:45 on this earth, and we don't even know if it's ectomycorrhizal we don't even know the diversity of funghi that we could lose if we lose this plant. Yeah, definitely. By I have a good friend that is she was born on. Unknown Speaker 13:04 What's the island called? Maria Mauritius? Yeah, off the coast of Madagascar? Yeah, I might be butchering the name. But um, yeah, Mauritius? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I would love to go with her Madagascar is on on my list. I don't know much about I think it's reunion and Mauritius are the two islands off the coast. Yeah. Unknown Speaker 13:23 Small, much smaller than Madagascar, for sure. Unknown Speaker 13:27 But yeah, it seems like such a beautiful, luscious place. And I'm just curious, I don't know if there has been Unknown Speaker 13:34 any Unknown Speaker 13:36 history or what of this history has been lost but of the Malagasy people if that's how you pronounce it, is there does anyone know if there's much of a cultural connection with fungi? Unknown Speaker 13:55 Um, Unknown Speaker 13:57 I think if there's no studies on taxonomy, I can tell you that the Unknown Speaker 14:04 it's not it's slipping out of my mouth. It's the study of the cultures relationship with funghi. It's probably not studied at all. I can tell you that in the the expectations that both Lauder and Brandon Tinker, my co authors in the paper, when they went to Madagascar, they did see that a lot of markets, street markets, they were selling a bunch of different mushrooms Chancho. Particular. Now, yeah, there is a paper published, I believe in the late 90s with a bunch of new taxa from I think Rusinga, and chanterelles, a bunch of new species that were found in a market Unknown Speaker 14:51 that was nice, just purchased a bunch of different species of mushrooms and they just described them. We also know that they use a certain tax Unknown Speaker 15:00 But taxes, which is it's not a puff ball, but it's kind of the same thing. It has a lot of sports, basically, to cauterize wounds. We have some pictures of that actually people using it to make the bleeding stop. Unknown Speaker 15:16 I mean, yeah, they definitely every culture has a relationship with mushrooms, but sometimes, yeah, it can get lost for sure. Yeah, it's really interesting. I hear this a lot specifically in Mexico, and it's probably all over the world. I just hear it more often in Mexico because they spend more time there. But Unknown Speaker 15:36 like my last trip was in Chiapas, and we were on a foray, and one of the guys I can't remember what indigenous group he was from, but he was saying that Unknown Speaker 15:50 kin who were looking at this mushroom and talking about it, and all the guidebooks said it was poisonous, and he was like, oh, no, eat that all the time. You just have to like, you know, Blanchett and water and, and I just hear that all the time of like, in the guidebooks, it says it's poisonous, and then certain indigenous groups are like, No, that's, that's great. We love that one in there, you know, certain things like that. I hear that all the time. And so it doesn't surprise me that they're selling a quote unquote, newly discovered species to you know, quote, unquote, Western science, you know, but it's, yeah, it's Unknown Speaker 16:30 yeah, I'd be I'd be curious to see. Both like, what what kind of endophytic fungi are in these these rare plants that are they're only endemic and then also like, what, what mushrooms are? Are the indigenous people using and? Unknown Speaker 16:45 And for what, right, like all the all the different uses for plants and fungi? So how does one even collects Ecto mycorrhizal roots? Unknown Speaker 16:56 It's actually it's probably easier. A lot of people, it's a very, very common question. Unknown Speaker 17:05 We just have a tool, it's called a soil core. It's basically get to the shape of a tee Unknown Speaker 17:15 with which is hollowed on the on the tape. And you can take standardized samples from the soil. Unknown Speaker 17:22 And you just take a bunch of soil and clean it and put the soil through seeps at first and then just with water, you just clean it until you get the roots. And then you get Yeah, I mean, if you're in the field, you're probably not gonna get a microscope to see if you detect a mycorrhizal but you can use through a hand lens during the masters. Actually, we had these cheap Unknown Speaker 17:48 attachments for the phone camera. That probably is just that. Unknown Speaker 17:54 Two plus, augmentation is probably not that big. But yeah, you can clearly see the Ekta mycorrhizal root tips from the non Ekta mycorrhizal root tips. So, you just take them and you put them in a buffer. If you are in Madagascar and you want to bring them to the UK, you have to put them in a some sort of liquid that will preserve them, at least until they get here. Yeah, it's it's it's not that difficult. I mean, is a lot of work in the moment, but it's not that difficult. Really. Yeah, I I've done some soil classes at this point so many years ago, so I forget what we did. But I remember we were just specifically looking for this, the mycorrhizal spores. And so taking soil samples, putting it through many different of those kind of circular filters, you know, starting from like, a Unknown Speaker 18:49 higher, like, more of a loosers Yeah, yeah, filter, and then going down to a superfine one. And then looking sometimes, I know there's certain species or genera of mycorrhizal fungi, where you can actually see the spores with the naked eye, but mostly, to Unknown Speaker 19:10 I don't know if you've done this before, but looking under a microscope and with a grid, and then individually counting the number of spores in each square. I forget what that's called. Unknown Speaker 19:22 Very over the neighbor. Yeah, very monotonous. But it was cool to use that to figure out like, how many spores per cubic foot of soil or you know, or cubic inch or whatever. Unknown Speaker 19:35 Yeah, that was that was interesting. I could see how it could be extremely tedious. But I also imagined that you know, because cue sends people all over the world to collect fungal samples, is it pretty easy to navigate, like paperwork, for customs and things like that? With the relationships Q has, it varies from country to country. We are now Unknown Speaker 20:00 I was starting well, we just, Unknown Speaker 20:03 yeah, we just applied for funding for that field trip to Madagascar. And we've seen the amount of paperwork you have to Yeah, we don't, I don't think we have it easier. We do have contacts. And thankfully, we have a queue, Madagascar Conservation Center, which is basically a branch of Kew in Madagascar. And that helps a lot. We have now we have our first mycologist in Madagascar. Unbelievable. So she just nice. And like last year, her PhD in. And yeah, she's helping us a lot with planning, because you cannot use Google to see how long it's going to take you from one part of the island to another because the calculation that Google Maps does do not account for the poor state of roads for accelerate. Right. And yeah, paperwork. You will, you cannot do it alone. You need someone in Madagascar to guide you through it. And thankfully, we have Madagascar Conservation Center to help us Yeah. Unknown Speaker 21:08 Yeah, I, I did some work in Jamaica, I don't know how many years ago. And we did this kind of like farm tour where helping out Unknown Speaker 21:19 different farms, like implement mushroom farms on their land. And some of them were pretty far out there, you know. And so on the main road, if you if you are by Kingston or something, you could use Google Maps. But then once you once you left, stop working very quick. And we just relied on, you know, asking random people on the side of the road, hey, you know, do you know how to get here and try to try to remember their other directions. And we got so lost a turn. There's some long days where I, I just take it for granted. Google Maps. Now I just use it. Even for places that I've been, Unknown Speaker 22:02 like, I know how to do it. But I'll just, I'll plug it into Google Maps anyways, because I like to know, oh, it's seven minutes away or something like that. I take it for granted so much. So how much of the island is road versus when when doing the surveys? Like how much are you on foot? Or are you do you have a machete like what you climbing and like what is what does it look like? It really depends on the part of the island. That's one of the things that makes Madagascar very special. You have rainforest and 25 kilometers, you have a huge mountain that is very high. And do you have that is completely different than then another 25 kilometers and you have almost a desert? And then 80 kilometers to the north. You have mangroves. It really depends. If you go to the rainforest, of course you need to be careful you sometimes need to bring a machete I don't think we're gonna do that. We'll see. But yeah, the There are main roads and then there is a lot of just dirt roads that Unknown Speaker 23:12 cross the national parks and of course, the most of the island is runoff most but a lot of the island is national park is protected areas. So Unknown Speaker 23:24 even if it's just for research, it's usually well connected, like you probably have roads. Unknown Speaker 23:31 But it really depends on where you want to go, for example, to easily National Park where that endemic plant species that I told you about Unknown Speaker 23:39 is we would have to it's a very long road. It's not close to anything and to sleep at night, we would have to go to another city. It's a it's a whole thing. So yeah, it's I mean, it's of course, Madagascar has its own problems and Unknown Speaker 24:00 yeah, researchers are also have to suffer that sometimes. Yeah, what what would you say? I mean Unknown Speaker 24:13 you know, like the Congo is not too far away, and I would be terrified, exploring the Congo of all you know, all the just dangerous animals that could eat me or poisonous things or, you know, mosquitoes giving me malaria or whatever. Unknown Speaker 24:31 Else even I hear the dangers of like Papa New Guinea of chemotherapy, there's some tribes that might eat you or Unknown Speaker 24:39 they're like real things that you just Yeah, you can't just go out. Unknown Speaker 24:45 I don't know much about Madagascar or their animals that are pretty dangerous or they're poisonous. Unknown Speaker 24:52 snakes, spiders, things like that. Yeah. So there is the spiders, there's snakes there's leeches off Unknown Speaker 25:00 Cause there is a bunch of different insects that you can have an allergic reaction to and not even know it because you're European and you're going to Africa. Unknown Speaker 25:08 Those things that, yeah, but you kind of need to be worried about that. If I go to the US, I'm probably also going to have some health issues because of certain insects that I don't know. I don't tolerate. Unknown Speaker 25:19 There's no lions. There is no, Tiger. That's good. Oh, yeah. Huge animals, I think the biggest animal they have apart from monkeys and lemurs and all of that. It's the fossa, which is, I actually don't know if it's a cat or what it is. But it's, yeah, it's a small ish, kind of big cat Unknown Speaker 25:43 type of thing. And it's not I don't think it's dangerous to humans. There is the danger of the occasional lemur slash monkey throwing something from Unknown Speaker 25:55 their poop at yours. Yeah. Or just fruit. But yeah, but yeah, they get pretty territorial. I have some videos of friends that went to Africa. And they did have that happen to them. But ya know, it's, you just need to be cautious, but it's not the most horrible country in regards of the danger. Yeah. Yeah, that's good. I spent a few months in Ecuador in 2015. And part of the time we were studying leafcutter ants, and yeah, you know how much leaf litter they turn into mycelium fungi. And we were out one day, we had one more site. The sun was going down. We're like, Ah, it's not that far away. We can squeeze it in. We severely underestimated it. And we got lost and the sun went down. It was dark. We realize we didn't have flashlights, we, it we were lost. And then we were like, Oh, we have a GPS. We take out the GPS, the battery's dead. Unknown Speaker 27:01 And we had one phone that had like, 3% battery between us. And you know, we just set up a hunter camera trap the night before, and we saw a Jaguar on there. So we knew we were in Jaguar country, and there was one that was around our camp. And honestly, and on the way there we were seeing poisonous spiders and centipedes. And, you know, there's the trees. I don't know, if you've seen them, they have the spikes on them. And so you can't really just like hold your handout to too wet in the dark, you know, to like, feel your way around. And there's tons of spider webs everywhere. Honestly, I was not afraid of the Jaguar it was just, you know, running into a spider web or as a centipede or just like the creepy crawlies that everything has is venomous there that, you know, it's just, that's, it's not fun. You know, I think, what's that cartoon? Unknown Speaker 28:01 That Unknown Speaker 28:03 part of it is in Madagascar with the animals that can talk like Oscar, that's called Madagascar. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, they may I feel like they make it seem way more friendly than it, it might be. Unknown Speaker 28:18 That's the perk of sampling for active mycorrhizal fungi that, you know, you have to be back at some sort of facility to clean up the roots at the end of the day. So you're never spending time at night in the rainforest. That's great. Good. Yeah. Well, yeah, they're, I mean, if you're looking for bioluminescent mushrooms, or, I've, I've done this, and I hear a lot of people do this for entomopathogenic fungi, like quarter steps. So sometimes it's easier to find them at night because you're not distracted by all the chaos of all the foliage. And if you shine your flashlight, it's kind of like tunnel vision, and you're able to kind of focus on them a lot easier. I don't know why, but it just sometimes makes it easier. And then for bioluminescent fungi, obviously you gotta go at night. Unknown Speaker 29:14 But other than that, yeah, you probably want to go in the day. Yeah, definitely. Unknown Speaker 29:20 Specifically to be digging in the soil. Oh, yeah. What what has been the coolest in your opinion, coolest mushroom or fungal species that has been found in Madagascar? Unknown Speaker 29:34 Wow. Unknown Speaker 29:37 Woof, genera or group anything. I mean, there's there is a lot of undescribed Unknown Speaker 29:46 even genera that we have in the collection that we cannot just it's impossible to tackle all of the diversity we have in the collection at Q Unknown Speaker 29:57 but there is this this mushroom that fast Unknown Speaker 30:00 Tonight in me from the beginning. Here in Europe, we know the genus morass, Mia's probably North America, you also have it. And they are these tiny, tiny things that usually are growing leaf litter or small branches. They are but they are small they are. I think the biggest one we have is the edible rasmea story IDs gathering in Europe. Unknown Speaker 30:24 But yeah, it's usually very tiny. And then you find in Madagascar, this huge merriment, you can actually see it. And in our paper, the paper we just published about this. It's one of the images we decided to put because it's just huge. It's bigger than a hat. And it's this huge morass means I think Mormonism is Unknown Speaker 30:47 an African species that we call a common goalie, I think. And it's just so huge, and it's very beautiful. It's kind of ochre with, like, purplish teachers. It's a very interesting Mrs. musea. Cool. Yeah. I, they're one of my favorite mushrooms to find, you know, if they're growing on little leaves, or pine cones or little sticks or something like that. Unknown Speaker 31:13 Yeah, they kind of remind me of like an umbrella. Yeah, just like the shape of them. Like, you know, so cute. Yeah, yeah. They're awesome. Cool. And is there a mushroom that that Unknown Speaker 31:25 that you want to find? Unknown Speaker 31:28 There are a bunch of monitors that have been described by French mycologists. In Madagascar at the beginning of the Unknown Speaker 31:39 20th century. They were described for Madagascar. They had collections made, they were housed in the herbarium in Madagascar, that Fairbury. Birth down. So the Unknown Speaker 31:55 there are some copies in the Natural History Museum in Paris, but they haven't been found yet. We know they are there, but we don't know where to find them. But yeah, there are there are a bunch of monitors that are, I would love to find in the wild. Like I know of the drawings. I know the descriptions, but I there's not a recent collection for those species. I really would love to find some of them. If I ever go to Madagascar, at least one of them. Unknown Speaker 32:27 I so that makes me think of the cute Hungarian and yeah, I feel like I've asked this before because we we brought on folks from from the Hungarian before. Are there like sprinkler systems every square foot? You definitely do not want that to burn down. Right? I mean, that's, that's so much information Unknown Speaker 32:47 that would be lost. And I'm just thinking of massive libraries, like, but it would suck. I mean, it was, it's kind of like you don't want it to burn down. Like the Library of Alexandria was such a loss culturally for the world. But at the same time, spraying it with water would also suck so. So is it kind of like water is better than fire? And we'll deal with just drying everything out afterwards? Do you know, let's not smoke in the in the fog area? Keep the fire threat Unknown Speaker 33:20 as little as possible. I really don't know what the what the method would be. I mean, probably if the fire is very located, you probably will use sprinklers. Unknown Speaker 33:32 Because I mean, mushrooms are tried, they are within envelopes. Those envelopes are within boxes and those boxes are in metal. Got it? So you know if they would be protected from water if it's not a lot of water. But if we're talking about the huge fire, yeah. I prefer not to think about it. Because it's we have, I believe Unknown Speaker 33:58 1.3 million specimens here and they just opened a box and it was all type specimens. And yeah, I don't want to. Yeah, I can't wait to go to the library there as well. I have an amazing selection of books. And then so Unknown Speaker 34:15 the it burnt down was it rebuilt? Unknown Speaker 34:19 Because it's not exactly the same one, but yet they they do have a herbarium now. And it also has some ecological side and mycology wing. Unknown Speaker 34:30 And I'm sure they have better precautions now for fires. Hopefully. Yeah, I hope so. I hope so. I'm sure we do. I'm sure they do. Okay, cool. Well, that's, that's super exciting. I'm excited for your trip. That should be super fun. And besides fungi on Madagascar, what other notable research have you been up to that you're most excited about? Unknown Speaker 34:55 I work a lot in the Iberian Peninsula as well. So Spain and Portugal is Unknown Speaker 35:00 because obviously that's, you know, it's my area. It's where where I live and where I've been collecting mushrooms for a long time. And, surprisingly, even though it's Europe, we don't have that many experts. Unknown Speaker 35:15 In mycology, we have a lot of them but also the Burin Peninsula is very big. So I'm also Yeah, in the north in the Iberian Northwest, I work with a lot of people from there, a lot of my colleagues from the like the weego, the University of people laboratory. Unknown Speaker 35:33 We're all kind of working in different tax, focusing on my many tasty but I'm also working with the Iberian Mycological Society, and my colleagues with like area, which is a mess currently in Europe. taxonomic wise, it's, you cannot define species there. So we're working with that we're working with the puffballs, as well as the Earth balls and a lot of taxonomy being done. And Unknown Speaker 36:01 in the lab, our main thing is communication with the public. So we do run a lot of workshops on identification, and a lot of courses and we do give a lot of talks, because in Spanish University, mycology is barely present. Unknown Speaker 36:22 So we want to kind of set that and try to give the students who are thankfully now more interested in mycology never Unknown Speaker 36:33 tried to give them the information. Unknown Speaker 36:37 Cool. Well, I'm going to Portugal in a month. So I'll have to hit you up if Unknown Speaker 36:42 you recommend. I know there's like one. Unknown Speaker 36:47 It wouldn't be a state for National Forest. Unknown Speaker 36:50 They're like one big one that I was looking at my I'm actually looking on theirs. It looks like there's actually more. Unknown Speaker 36:58 Yeah, cool. Well, yeah, we'll have to talk after places I have to go. Unknown Speaker 37:05 That's great. And what has been overall and it could be this Madagascar project or, you know, defining species that you're just talking about what has been the hardest part of of your work? Unknown Speaker 37:19 Oh, the science part is not hard at all. I mean, it's very hard. But no, the hardest part is the uncertainty. The not knowing when you're a PhD student, particularly in southern Europe. Unknown Speaker 37:31 You know, you're doing something good. You're not you know, you're producing a lot of knowledge for a lot of people to use afterwards. We don't know if you're going to be able to do that in three years, or in four years or the career path is so open is so ethereal in a sense. Unknown Speaker 37:50 That it's yeah, that's the I think that's the hardest part is applying for scholarships, applying for funds, trying to help all the people that surround you that want to pursue a career and they have it harder than you because of many different reasons. So yeah, that's for me. That's the hardest part. I mean, of course, yeah, I hate computers. And they have to do a lot of bioinformatics. Yes, that's. Unknown Speaker 38:17 But I feel like the personal side, right, the the human side of science is Unknown Speaker 38:24 hard, because a lot of people don't even consider it. Yeah, it's funny. I just brought on someone were talking about Unknown Speaker 38:32 the mushroom cultivation scene, and what it what it's like to own a mushroom farm. And we were both we both agreed. The mushroom farming part is easy. Unknown Speaker 38:44 Part is hard. Just dealing with people. That's the hard part. And I hear that a lot, you know? Unknown Speaker 38:51 Yeah, yeah, there's no there's, there's very little drama with with mushrooms. Unknown Speaker 38:58 When you bring in people that it gets complicated. Exactly. We do it to ourselves. I feel like we overcomplicate things as humans, for whatever reason, I'm sure. Unknown Speaker 39:10 Is there anything that keeps you up at night? Is it or what is the most of it? Is it applying for grants or that uncertainty is that? Yeah, yeah, I would say that it's probably the main concern is seeing that you have a goal. You know, you want to achieve it. I would love to become a professor at uni at some point and just continue the work that my mentor Marisa Castro was doing at the University of Vigo I've also seen a lot of people give up stop with the academia. Career Path. Unknown Speaker 39:49 I'm not gonna because I'm very stubborn. Oh, yeah. So it gets it gets difficult at times. But yeah, I don't know that then in talking about what I got screwed. Unknown Speaker 40:00 is the fact that yeah, I'm, I'm loving working with Malagasy funghi. But I don't know how long those species have in the island because they are using forests at a pace unlike anywhere in the world. So yeah, I might describe a species tomorrow, and the next year, it will be endangered. And two years later, it might be extent. That is, that's hard. Very hard to think about. Very, yeah. Yeah. So say, Unknown Speaker 40:33 say you had unlimited time, money, resources, you didn't have to apply for grants. You had an awesome team, you had all the paperwork already filled out for all the permits and everything. Unknown Speaker 40:48 What would you do and why Unknown Speaker 40:51 100% said, camp in Madagascar, nice work, work there for a few years and help the people that are trying to do the same thing in Madagascar. And yeah, get get the first catalog of the island going get a bunch of microbiological education going in the island. Unknown Speaker 41:15 People from there know about the mushrooms, they are not unaware. But, you know, avoiding people dying, consuming poisonous mushrooms would be great. And yeah, just helping them and then go back to the Burin Peninsula and do the same thing back home. That would be great. Yeah, I don't I don't know if you how much you know about kind of the politics of the island. But I'm guessing. I don't know anything about Madagascar at all. And so I'm just curious. I know a lot of vanilla comes from Madagascar, some really good vanilla. And I'm guessing that is a big industry that potentially people are clear cutting forests to plant vanilla? Or does that grow in the shade of trees? I'm not sure I'm not really sure how, yeah, it's a vine. Right? So it grows. It's an orchid, it's a vine orchid. Unknown Speaker 42:13 Actually, I know of many projects that are trying to bring a different economic. Unknown Speaker 42:25 I don't know, money source for certain communities in Madagascar that are helping them build vanilla farms or vanilla crops. Unknown Speaker 42:35 One of the main issues in Madagascar is the cutting of wood, particularly for exports of ebony rosewood, on those very rare, very traumatic wounds, right. And they're just destroying habitats. It's illegal, of course, to cut those but, you know, they they cannot stop people from from doing that. So that is a huge problem. I mean, that Madagascar is a former colony. So all former colonies have very similar problems in that regard. Unknown Speaker 43:11 You know, we don't have to get into, we basically drain them. And then now, we're asking them to be to be in our same economic and educational level. And that is absurd. So yeah, there's a lot of poverty in Madagascar. I believe it's the top 10 impoverished countries in the world. Unknown Speaker 43:33 Yeah, it's it's it's a mess. The population continues growing, the environment continues degrading, and the economy is not Unknown Speaker 43:41 really improving a lot. Unknown Speaker 43:44 But, yeah, I mean, there's a lot of people in Madagascar trying their best to solve these issues, for sure. Unknown Speaker 43:53 Yeah, yeah. Well, I hope you win the lottery and you're able to move there and do some do some really exciting work. Unknown Speaker 44:00 Thanks. Yeah. I would love to visit Madagascar one day, it's definitely on my bucket list. So hopefully, when I go, you're there. You're doing awesome work. I can Yes, stop by say hi. What has been the highlight of your career? It could be like a specific day you'd like when you won an award or you discovered a new species or just day to day like what what? What keeps you motivated? beyond just your your innate stubbornness? Unknown Speaker 44:33 What gets you out of bed in the morning? I mean, we were talking about people before but the same at the same time. I think that meeting people like minded people, seeing people with Unknown Speaker 44:47 not perhaps the same interests, but the same. Unknown Speaker 44:52 I don't know how to say the same. Strive for knowledge in mycology, and Unknown Speaker 45:00 that has been amazing. And it really pushes you at least it does to me to to, to continue in this because you see that, okay, you're not alone here. You're you're not the weird one looking for funky, there is a lot of people that are very interested in this. So yeah, that and also, when you're teaching, one of the best things that you could, that you get as a teacher is people at the end of a 30 hour course through three months. And at the end, they, they, they tell you that they really enjoyed it and they're gonna you see that they sign up year after year. And you feel like you're making a difference that you're kind of transforming this myco phobic society into a more Yeah. Unknown Speaker 45:49 myco adjacent if not myco file. Society. It's uh, you know, it's, yeah, it's a good push to continue going. Yeah. Unknown Speaker 46:01 Cool. So where where can people follow your work? I don't know if you're on Twitter X or research gay or you got a website? Both uh, well, I don't have a website that you should really get into. I haven't I haven't started a website yet. But ya know, Twitter and Instagram is at Michroma Kota, very original. Unknown Speaker 46:26 If you want to follow my research, I mean, the main thing, the main platform for that is ResearchGate. And it's a mouthful. cleavers hyphae. Unknown Speaker 46:36 Amazing suite. Yeah. Well, thank you for coming on. I appreciate it. Thank you very much, Alex. Yeah. And thank you everyone for tuning in and tuning in for another episode of the mushroom revival podcast. This wouldn't exist without our all of our lovely listeners tuning in from all around the world. So appreciate you lots of love, big Virtual hug wherever you are. And yeah, if you if you love the show, please leave a review. It goes a long way. Either, you know, just a star review or write something nice Unknown Speaker 47:10 in that comment section. And yeah, just tell your friends just keep spreading the word of the mycelial network. We need more people getting super excited about fungi studying fungi, putting a spotlight on on all things mushrooms and fungi. So other ways that you can support we don't have a Patreon or any way that you can donate directly, but we do have a website, mushroom revival.com where we sell functional mushroom capsules, powders, tinctures, gummies, they're all certified organic. They're all extremely high quality, all fruiting bodies, no mycelium on grain, lab tested, and really great for your health. And if you want to feel good or your friends great gift, we're also offering a special VIP coupon code just for listeners. And that coupon code is pod treat. For a surprise discount code if you want to win some goodies we have a link in the description where you can sign up for a giveaway to win some free goodies we pick a new winner every month to win some some good stuff. So sign up there. We also have a bunch of educational content from cooking recipes to you know health tips microdosing guides you name it on our site with free ebooks and blogs and my new book The Little Book of mushrooms is available as well on our site and bookstores all across the US and and various websites. So you can you can grab that from us or pretty much from a lot of places that sells books. So that's super exciting and as always, much love and may the spores be with you Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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