DNA-based taxonomic identification of basidiospores in hallucinogenic mushrooms cultivated in "grow-kits" seized by the police

  • Gambaro, Veniero (Principal Investigator)
  • Roda, Gabriella (Academic)
  • Visconti, Giacomo Luca (Researcher)
  • Arnoldi, Sebastiano (Technician)
  • Castagni, Eleonora (Technician)
  • Dell'Acqua, Lucia (Co-investigator)
  • Farè, Fiorenza (Technician)
  • Paladino, Eleonora (Post Grad Student)
  • Rusconi, Chiara (Researcher)
  • Arioli, Stefania (Co-investigator)
  • Mora, Diego (Principal Investigator)

Project: Research

Project Details


Abstract: The taxonomic identification of the biological material contained in the hallucinogenic mushrooms culture media, was carried out using a DNA-based approach, thus highlighting the usefulness of this approach in the forensic identification of illegal samples also when they are present as basidiospores mixed in culture media and spore-bearing fruiting body are not present. This approach is very useful as it allows the unequivocal identification of potentially illicit material before the cultivation and it enables to stop the material to the Customs and to destroy it due to its dangerousness without cultivating the "grow-kits" and without instructing a criminal case. In fact, even if psilocin and psilocybin and the whole mushrooms are illegal in many countries, there is no specific indication in the law about the so called "grow-kits", containing the spores. To confirm the data obtained by the taxonomic identification, a simple, reliable, efficient LC-UV method, using tryptamine as internal standard, suitable for the forensic quali-quantitative determination of psilocin and psilocybin in hallucinogenic mushroom was optimized, validated and applied to the mushrooms grown after the cultivation of the grow-kits seized by the judicial authority, with the authorization of the Ministry of Health. A cation exchange column was used in a gradient elution mode (Phase A: 50mMK2HPO4; 100mM NaCl pH=3 Phase B: methanol). The developed method was linear over the calibration range with a R(2)>0.9992 for both the analytes. The detection and quantification limits were respectively 0.01 and 0.1μg/mL for psilocybin and 0.05μg/mL and 0.1μg/mL for psilocin and the intra- and inter-day precision was satisfactory (coefficients of variation <2.0% for both the analytes). The content of psilocybin in the mushrooms grown from the seized "grow-kits" ranged from 1.02 to 7.60mg/g of dry vegetable material, while the content of psilocin from 0.415 to 8.36mg/g.


Masters thesis, Journal article
Effective start/end date5/06/165/06/16


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