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article imageFirst 'magic mushroom' family tree produced

By Tim Sandle     Aug 10, 2013 in Environment
Although popularized by the counter-culture illicit drug taking phase of the 1960s, no official family tree for the "magic mushroom" has existed until now. Using molecular markers, researchers have reconstructed the “magic” mushroom family tree.
"Magic mushrooms" are species of Psilocybe fungi. These fungi are known for their hallucinogenic effects, which are due to their active compound psilocybin (which is a psychoactive indole alkaloid). Psilocybe cubensis is the most common psilocybin mushroom in subtropical areas and the black market. Other names for "magic mushrooms" include "Shrooms"; "Sacred Mushrooms"; and "teonanácatl."
Psilocybin mushrooms have likely been used since prehistoric times and arguably they have been depicted in cave art. Many cultures have used these mushrooms in religious rites. In modern Western society, they are used recreationally for their psychedelic effects. In 1958, Albert Hofmann first identified psilocybin and psilocin as the active compounds in these mushrooms. Aside from being used recreationally, some scientific research is on-going into the medicinal properties of the "magic mushroom."
When psilocybin is ingested, it is broken down to produce psilocin, which is responsible for the psychedelic effects. When taken, users' experience changes to the audio, visual, and tactile senses around 30 minutes to an hour after ingestion.
In terms of putting together a family tree, there are about 40 species are found in the genus Psilocybe. The task was undertaken by researchers from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico. Using advanced genetic 'sequencing' (what is called phylogenetic analysis), the researchers have linked the Psilocybe to the related, non-hallucinogenic genus Deconica.
The findings have been published in the journal Botany.
More about Magic mushrooms, Psilocybe fungi, Fungi, Psilocybin, hallucinogenic effects
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