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Mushroom meeting in Chiang Mai

November 11, 2011

A small group of enthusiasts here in Chiang Mai try to teach each other more about local mushrooms. Now there is a chance to meet the real experts:

The Thai Mushroom Society will hold ‘The National Conference on Mushroom Science’ at Chiang Mai Orchid Hotel on December 14-17, 2011.

The Thai Mycological Association will arrange a mycological meeting on December 20-21 at Rama Garden Hotel, Bangkok.

TMA will also arrange the  10th International Mycological Conference in Bangkok in 2014.

The slogan of the upcoming meeting in Chiang Mai is ‘Love mushrooms Save the Earth’. With an estimated 1.5 million fungal species in the world (five times more than plant species) but only about 100 000 fungal species described, the field of fungal science (mycology) is wide open. Products from the mushroom kingdom include for instance cyclosporine for organ transplantation, antibiotics, hormones, vitamin D, ergotamine against migraine and enzymes used in detergents to remove stains.What other chemical treasures are hidden within these peculiar organisms?

I predict mycology will be a huge subject in the future, but since natural science is currently dominated by the USA, and since the European research councils follow the American trends, and since Anglo-Saxon cultures generally dismiss mushrooms as useless, I predict the great discoveries of new products will occur in Asia. Japan and China have invested billions in mycological research. An attempt to create a modest mushroom research centre in Sweden was shelved due to lack of interest, but what the Swedes rejected received a hundred times more money in Kunming, China.

It is very wise of Thailand to create its own footpath rather than walking behind the staggering west. USA and Europe have had their heydays and are stuck in mental and economical stagnation, currently focused on chasing chimeras and how to handle sick-leave during vacation. We need to establish new creative environments to meet the challenges of humanity. Go Asia!

Mushroom picking is fun, but mushroom science (mycology) may also result in natural products promoting health and economy. This picture is from a Japanese mushroom factory.

(If you wish to read more about Thai mushrooms, type ‘mushroom’ in the search box to your right.)

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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