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Field-Portable Mushroom Identifier
Rugged, field-portable unit with replaceable cartridge of chemical and biological assays that detects all known poisonous (and optionally edible) mushrooms.
The unit allows the mushroom-picker to take a small sample of a mushroom, analyze it, and display information/pictures about what it has identified
(so that the mushroom picker can keep or discard the mushroom).
All poisonous mushrooms have one or more poisonous substances (e.g., amanitin, muscarine, etc.) The "cartridge" portion of iShroom would have an array of cells each loaded with a chemical that, upon reacting with one of the known toxins, undergo a color or electrical conductivity change (similar to how a blood-glucose meter works). iShroom would have a database of different sets of reactions induced by the toxins in a known mushroom, and would use this to attempt an identification.
Each cartridge would have enough sets of microarrays to identify a typical batch of 'shrooms.'
This may be a bit expensive, but I'm sure it beats the alternatives...
(Of course, the unit would also display all the appropriate disclaimers upon startup...)
Similar to this
What I describe above might be more practical than electrophoresis [cowtamer, Nov 07 2006]
USDA Guidebook to Mushroom Toxins
[cowtamer, Nov 07 2006]
Screening Method to Detect 13 Common Mycotoxins
[cowtamer, Nov 07 2006]
Mushrooms, by Roger Philips
[hippo, Nov 08 2006]
||+ There are Bold mushroom hunters and there are Old mushroom hunters. I have a 900 page field guide & still don't feel safe in my ability to properly identify them.
||(+) Aren't all mushrooms field portable?
||Separating poisonous mushrooms from edible mushrooms or mushrooms you're not sure about isn't hard so I don't see much use for this device.
On a recent visit to a park in London, we found Boletus Edulis (a.k.a Ceps, or Porcini), Russula, Boletus Badius (a.k.a Bay Boletus), Common Puffball, Beefsteak Fungus, and Parasol Mushrooms. We weren't sure about the Russulas as this is a large mushroom family and they all look similar, but all the rest are easily distinguishable from anything poisonous so we ate all of them. Being able to pick mushrooms in prime condition and being able to tell apart the Boletus Edulis, which is about the finest mushroom you're ever going to find, from Boletus Badius, which is nice but not exceptional, are much more useful skills than the relatively easy task of identifying an Avenging Angel, Death-Cap or Fly Agaric.
I'd recommend getting one of the Roger Philips books (linked), which are excellent.
||//I'd recommend getting one of the Roger Philips books//...or a page from a newspaper with all the names printed on there...