Jackie writes:

Greetings to all,

I’ve hesitated sending this email as this is likely very elementary so I apologize in advance!  There was a recent episode of TWIM that you guys mentioned you didn’t receive many emails…so here you go.  I’m a new listener and am loving it.  Unfortunately, I do not have a formal background in micro…but I daydream of it!  One day!  Hahaha.   So far none of my colleagues have complained about me listening to TWIM while I prepare our equipment for the day…yeay!  

I have an inquiry regarding ergot toxin:  (random, I know.)

Is the toxicity and resulting clinical complications due to all ergot alkaloids, or only to those species of ergot alkaloid producing fungi that also produce sclerotia?  [what’s different between the fungal species that result in ergotism while other’s do not?]

         (side question: are sclerotia basically the fungal version of bacterial inclusion bodies…storage?) 

I have read that this mycotoxin can cause gangrene in both humans and animals, and additionally that ergotamine is a building block of the psychoactive drug LSD.  How is ergotamine different enough to not cause LSD users to develop gangrene at times (or does it?)  

Additionally, how would a crop become initially contaminated with ergo alkaloids?  

          If a field were to be contaminated, would the fungi now live in the soil and compromise future yields?  

          If these mycotoxins are the same as others and are chemically stable; how would you treat an infected field?  

Recently there have been numerous reports of food-poisoning type illness (n/v & diarrhea) allegedly caused by Lucky Charms cereal (so far unfounded.)  Theoretically, could that possibly be the presenting signs/symptoms of ergotism and an ergot toxin event?  

Does ergotism only come from ingestion of the toxins, or can one get it from other routes?  

All the questions!  

Thank you in advanced for fueling my nerd tendencies!  Stay safe and keep being awesome.



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