By Adesina Wahab
A PROFESSOR of Food Microbiology and Mycology has warned members of the public to desist from eating mushrooms indiscriminately especially when in doubt about its true identity, saying such act could lead to death or serious injury.
Prof. Bamidele Akinyele gave the warning while delivering the 119th Inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA titled: Fungi and Fungal Products: Integral Part of Industrialization in a Developing Economy.
Picking mushrooms from the wild for food and medicinal value is an age long practice in Africa.
She, however, pointed out that the major problem arising from eating mushrooms was the inability or difficulty of mushroom gatherers to identify the poisonous mushrooms which contain toxins and this could be very detrimental to human health.
Akinleye disclosed that the symptoms of mushroom poisoning could vary from slight gastro-intestinal discomfort, vomiting and in acute cases, death.
She added that it could also vary from gastric upset to life-threating organ failure resulting in fatality.
Differentiating between poisonous and edible mushrooms, the lecturer said poisonous mushrooms turn green or purple, have a burning or stinging taste, bad odour, bitter taste, have no presence of worms and have scales on the cap.
On the other hand, edible mushrooms do not stain, do not turn green or purple, have a sweet taste, does not sting the tongue, have presence of worms and do not have scales on the cap.
Akinyele said that presently, most of the fungi that could not be properly and adequately identified in Nigeria were being sent to the UK or USA and therefore proposed the establishment of mycological culture collection centers in tertiary institutions for proper and adequate documentation of various fungi in Nigeria.
Highlighting the importance of fungi in economic development, the don said fungi play significant roles in the health sector and industries where different fungi are being used in the production of various metabolites and enzymes of industrial importance.
The lecturer also stated that fungi have been identified to be effective and ecofriendly in the bioremediation of crude oil polluted soil particularly in the Niger-Delta area of Nigeria.
To this effect Professor Akinyele said the government should make use of the various research findings by providing foods to industries to encourage commercial production of these invaluable fungal products.
Presenting the lecturer, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Joseph Fuwape, described her as an erudite scholar who has contributed greatly to knowledge in her field. He said Professor Akinyele stands out in her field of study, having churned out a number of graduates and postgraduate students and contributed significantly to the development of the university and human capital development.