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New Mexico State University

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NMSU Fungal Biology class, HRTM present Mushroom Cooking Demonstration

New Mexico State University’s 2017 Fungal Biology class will bring science to the kitchen during the upcoming Mushroom Cooking Demonstration Thursday, April 13.


Orange mushrooms
A cluster of mushrooms, possibly Orange Pinwheels, grows on a rotting log alongside the Rim Trail in the Lincoln National Forest near Cloudcroft. The fascinating nature of mushrooms and other fungi will be the topic of conversation during the Mushroom Cooking Demonstration April 13 in Skeen Hall. (NMSU photo by Darrell J. Pehr)

The event, free and open to the public and the NMSU community, is a joint venture between the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management and the Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science, both in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

The presentation will be fostered through Soum Sanogo, instructor for the Fungal Biology course.

As Chef John Hartley of HRTM demonstrates how to cook mushrooms, students in the Fungal Biology class will present information on the nutritional and medicinal benefits of mushrooms.

The event is part of the discovery and experiential learning module on “Fungi: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.” The event will be from 10:20 to 11:35 a.m. in the rotunda of Skeen Hall.

Professor Sanogo said this course is offered every other spring semester. The Mushroom Cooking Demonstration was included starting in the spring of 2011.

“The class emphasizes experiential learning,” Sanogo said, “and the Mushroom Cooking Demonstration provides one of the opportunities for engaging students in experiential learning.”

Sanogo said students learn about the “Good” side of fungi, especially how fungi are important in our environment serving as delicacies and gastronomical delights.

“Additionally, fungi are masters of recycling, facilitating the biodegradation of various materials,” Sanogo said. “On the ‘Bad’ side, fungi can, among other things, compromise indoor air quality if left to build up leading to allergies and other ailments. The ‘Ugly’ side of fungi is their lethality. Consuming certain fungi, especially many types of mushrooms, can be lethal. Similarly, some fungi are known to produce the so-called mycotoxins (such as aflatoxins) in food stuffs, which, when consumed can result in death or serious ailments.”

Sanogo said while the cultivation of mushrooms is not a big business in New Mexico, it has a substantial economic impact nationwide. According to a 2016 report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sales of mushroom crops for 2015-2016 were valued at $1.19 billion.

“Fungi can also have detrimental economic impacts,” Sanogo said. “From antiquity to modern days, fungi have been affecting human life. Growing wheat during the Romans’ era was a nightmare due to the wheat rust fungus. To appease the wrath of the wheat rust fungus, the Romans worshiped two Gods, Robigo and Robigus, during a celebration known as Robigalia for protection against the wheat rust fungus.”

Fungi continues to have a negative impact on agriculture, from decimating the cocoa bean industry in Brazil in the 1990s to impacting the local chile crop by causing Verticillium wilt in the chile pepper.

“Another case is the fungus Sclerotinia sclerotiorum that causes a wide array of diseases in crops such as peanut, cabbage, lettuce, soybean and sunflower,” Sanogo said. “According to one estimate, annual losses due to diseases caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum exceed $200 million in the U.S.”