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Vietnamese Scientist Discovers New Shiitake Species in Central Highlands

A group of Vietnamese scientists have discovered a new species of shiitake mushroom in the forests of the Central Highlands.

Dr. Le Xuan Tham, the lead scientist responsible for discovering the mushroom, told Tuoi Tre the new shiitake variety is only the eighth known species of such mushrooms in the world, and the second in Vietnam. Other species of shiitake grow in moist climates throughout East and Southeast Asia, namely in Japan, Vietnam, China, South Korea and Thailand.

Dr. Tham, who plans to name the mushroom Lentinula platinedodes Tham et Duong after the scientists who discovered the species, has been studying the new shiitake since 2009, however he only recently announced his team’s findings in a scholarly article published in an unnamed international journal, reports the news outlet.

The scientist’s curiosity was first piqued when he observed the mushroom-picking habits of residents near Cat Tien National Park in 2009. Unable to identify the mushroom they were collecting, Dr. Tham recruited some of his undergraduate students to search for and photograph the fungi before collecting samples. After extensive study of the samples, Dr. Tham concluded the mushroom’s genome was unlike any other shiitake species.

Since then, Dr. Tham and his team have collaborated with the University of Toronto to analyze the mushroom’s spores, according to Tuoi Tre, and Harvard professor Dr. David Hibbett has also offered to join forces with the scientist to study the mushroom in greater detail.

[Photo via Tuoi Tre]

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