The world’s deadliest mushroom has been spreading across the United States faster than expected. The “death cap” mushroom, which is more formally called Amanita phalloides, is extremely toxic to humans. The species originated in Europe, but has quickly been finding a new home all across the U.S.
Up until now, scientists were baffled at how quickly the world’s deadliest mushroom was setting up shop. However, new insights into the death cap have shown just how it gets its roots down so quickly.
According to a study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the death cap mushroom can produce spores using the chromosomes of a single individual. That means the world’s deadliest mushroom doesn’t need a mate in order to reproduce.
As such, it only takes one of these mushrooms setting up shop to quickly start spreading around as much as possible. This new discovery is based on the genomes of 86 samples of the world’s deadliest mushrooms, all of which were collected in California since 1993 and parts of Europe since 1978.
Other specimens collected in 2014 showed that two different spots contain the same material, which the scientists say makes them the same individual mushroom. These asexual spores are formed in the world’s deadliest mushroom when it replicates its own chromosomes in two distinctly identical packages.
From there, the death caps continue to replicate until they manage to find another death cap to mate with. From there, some of the death caps offspring mate, while others don’t, thus causing a repeating pattern in the population of the world’s deadliest mushrooms.
Because of their quick spread across the U.S., scientists recommend keeping a close eye on whether death caps are in your area before you go hunting for mushrooms of any kind. That way, you know exactly what you’re getting into when you gather mushrooms of any kind, as they can all do different things, including possibly helping cure cancer.