In this episode, Joe interviews Jason Slot, Ph.D.: Associate Professor of Mycology and Evolutionary Genomics at Ohio State University, and founding member and scientific advisor to the Entheome Foundation, which has the goal of publishing 200+ fungal genomes by 2023 – starting with all the psilocybin-producing species.
Slot talks about evolutionary genomics and his process: how he looks for interesting gene clusters in the genomes of different fungi to hypothesize what these clusters could be responsible for, how different species interact, and how these genes and species have evolved over time. He discusses the state of mycology in 2022 and the booming interest in functional mushrooms; the regulations around psilocybin and how they all relate to the dispensing of mushrooms; the weirdest things he’s seen in the complicated process of mushroom reproduction; substrate supplementation (with different enzymes, tryptophans, or even DMT); and just how much there still is to discover in the world of mushrooms and other possible plant medicines.
He also discusses illumina high throughput sequencing; tetrapolar mating systems; Paul Stamets’ P-Value scale and the hayflick limit; mushroom parasexuality; horizontal gene transfer; and a lot of other scientific aspects of the unique studies of a mycologist. If you’re interested in psilocybin-producing mushrooms and want to explore mycology more deeply, this episode serves as a great introduction.
“It’s a small field, but I think that it’s growing. I think we have a lot more interest coming in because the growth of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms is just ridiculous. It’s a huge industry in the making.”
“I do crazy evolutionary analyses with all the fungal genomes I can get my hands on, and then find something interesting in the evolutionary history, and then I find an organism that’s got that particular gene or gene cluster that I’m interested in. It gives rise to interesting hypotheses.”
“They’re organisms with their own existences. We tend to think of a mushroom as a tool for therapy, or we think of a mushroom as a product or something like that. But these are organisms with their own rights to exist and thrive as they would.”
Fungi.com (Paul Stamets)
About Jason Slot, Ph.D.
Jason Slot, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Mycology and Evolutionary Genomics. Jason has a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from Boston University. In order to learn how to get from here to there, he drove a taxi in Boston in the late 1990s. Jason later received a Master’s degree in Science Education from Boston University, and a Ph.D. from Clark University. Jason’s dissertation work leveraged the emerging technology of fungal genome sequencing to investigate how mushrooms and other fungi adapt to new ecological niches. There, and in his postdoctoral research at Vanderbilt University, he contributed new findings and theories on the role of horizontal gene transfer in fungal evolution. It is through this lens that Jason now studies the evolutionary ecology of psychedelic fungi and the role of neuroactive defense chemicals in the evolution of intelligence. As a former high school science teacher, Jason is passionate about education at all levels. At the Ohio State University, where Jason is faculty in the Department of Plant Pathology, he has developed and taught multiple courses in fungal biology and genomics, and recently developed an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in Mycology. Jason has also served as chair of graduate studies and is currently the faculty advisor for the newly formed OSU Mycology Club. He is also an active member of the Mycological Society of America, where he has led student awards and conference programming committees. In recent years, Jason has been working to bring psychedelics to the educational offerings at Ohio State. He worked with Brian Pace to launch OSU’s first Psychedelics Studies course and was invited by Alan Davis to serve as the Director of Educational Initiatives in the College of Social Work’s Center for Psychedelic Drug Research and Education (CPDRE). In this role, he is currently leading efforts with faculty and collaborators to bring interdisciplinary psychedelics educational programs to the university. Beyond OSU, Jason is a founding member and scientific advisor to the Entheome Foundation, whose mission is conservation, Indigenous reciprocity, and open genomic data on psychedelic fungi, plants, and animals. In social media, Jason uses the handle @fungolution, mostly to post pictures of fungi and make observations about nature and humanity.
Support the show!
- Leave us a review on Facebook or iTunes
- Share us with your friends
- Join our Facebook group – Psychedelics Today group – Find the others and create community.