The School of AREAS hosts Mississippi Shiitake Mushroom Seminar


On Thursday, September 3, 2015, the Alcorn State University School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences (AREAS) hosted an informative seminar entitled “Elemental Analysis of Shiitake Mushrooms from Mississippi”. Held in the Ray Johnson Assembly Center in the Extension and Research Complex, the event featured influential keynote speaker, Dr. Gretchen E. Potts, Professor, University of Tennessee. She collaborated her research on Shiitake mushrooms from Lorman, Mississippi with Dr. Frank Mrema, Forestry and Mycology Specialist, Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center and Jay N. Patel, Senior, Biochemistry major at the University of Tennessee.

“This seminar is relevant because it will trigger more research questions among students and faculty. It will reveal to us what areas we need to focus on more in the future,” Dr. Mrema expressed.

The event began with a welcome from Dr. Magid A. Dagher, Director, Mississippi Small Farm and Agribusiness Center. Dr. Dagher welcomed one and all to the seminar before introducing the keynote speaker.

Following the greetings and introduction, Dr. Potts began her presentation.

The lecture began with background information on the research. After a major flood in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Shiitake mushrooms, located on an organic farm, contaminated with water from the Tennessee Products Superfund site (Chattanooga Creek), were analyzed by Dr. Potts to determine if the mushrooms were edible.

Ten years later, once noticing some discoloration of the sweetgum logs harvesting mushrooms here in Lorman, Mississippi, Dr. Mrema contacted Dr. Potts. They together were to determine if the mushrooms had absorbed any heavy metals that would have polluted the mushrooms.

Dr. Potts and her research student, Patel, tested the mushrooms received from Dr. Mrema for metals and compared them to the levels of the Chattanooga Shiitake mushrooms from 2004. The results of the analysis and statistical comparison were presented in today’s seminar. Before Dr. Potts’ research in Chattanooga, not much research on Shiitake mushrooms had been conducted in the United States. This collaboration between Dr. Potts and Dr. Mrema allowed the expansion of research on the contaminated mushrooms across state lines.

Dr. Potts stated, “This project is a collaboration for Dr. Mrema and myself, the Universities of Tennessee and Alcorn State, and the students. In the future I would like to see us doing more work in statistical analysis, analysis of more samples, and the analysis of creek water.”

Before closing, Dr. Potts thanked the University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s Department of Chemistry and Grote Endowment, her students, and Dr. Mrema and Dr. Dagher.

For more information on the event, please contact Dr. Magid A. Dagher at, phone (601)877-6449 or Dr. Mrema at, phone (601)877-6596.