Mycological Research


Amanita muscaria: chemistry, biology, toxicology, and ethnomycology

Didier MICHELOT a1c1 and Leda Maria MELENDEZ-HOWELL a2
a1 Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Institut Régulation et Développement, Diversité Moléculaire, Chimie et Biochimie des Substances Naturelles, USM 502 UMR 8041 C.N.R.S., 63 rue de Buffon, F-75005 Paris, France. E-mail: [email protected]
a2 Systématique et Evolution, USM 602, 12, rue Buffon, F-75005 Paris, France.


The fly agaric is a remarkable mushroom in many respects; these are its bearing, history, chemical components and the poisoning that it provokes when consumed. The ‘pantherina’ poisoning syndrome is characterized by central nervous system dysfunction. The main species responsible are Amanita muscaria and A. pantherina (Amanitaceae); however, some other species of the genus have been suspected for similar actions. Ibotenic acid and muscimol are the active components, and probably, some other substances detected in the latter species participate in the psychotropic effects. The use of the mushroom started in ancient times and is connected with mysticism. Current knowledge on the chemistry, toxicology, and biology relating to this mushroom is reviewed, together with distinctive features concerning this unique species.

(Received July 12 2002)
(Accepted January 14 2003)

c1 Corresponding author.