Mushroom Revival Podcast

A podcast devoted to the wonderful world of fungi. Our eclectic show covers fungi in health & wellness, technology, science, culture and more. Welcome to the Mushroom Revival.


episode 101: Ergot: Psychedelic Fungal Pathogens


Ergot describes a group of fungi with powerful alkaloids. So powerful, that they have impact in history, medicine, and possibly religion. It's famous for the morbid poisoning in humans, for catalyzing the synthesis of LSD,  and its potential role in ancient ceremony. Today we are honored to speak with Dr. Daniel Panaccione, who is one of few ergot alkaloid specialists. Having studied their biosynthesis and genetics, he is a true expert on their chemical matters.

Dr. Panaccione is a professor of plant and soil sciences at West Virginia University where he works on genetic manipulation and chemical analyses to understand underlying genes of ergot alkaloids and reconstruct its pathways.

Topics Covered

  • Defining Ergot species & their respective metabolites
  • Life cycle of Claviceps purpurea and it's ecological roles
  • How an ergot fungus may be behind the Salem Witch Trials and other historical events
  • Synthesis of ergot alkaloid-based drugs and medicines
  • Mechanisms of action with ergot alkaloids in the human body
  • DEA regulation on ergot alkaloids and like compounds
  • Evolution of ergot alkaloid producing fungi
  • Potential and unlikely organisms that contain ergot alkaloids
  • The inadvertent discovery of LSD
  • Pharmacology of ergot alkaloids: challenges, history, methods and R&D

Show notes

Dr. Panaccione's WVU profile:

Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia feat. Ergot and Dr. Panaccione:

Ergot Museum:

Linnda Caporael's report on the Salem Witch Trials:

Growing Ergot:

Life Cycle of Ergot:

Structure of Ergot Alkaloids:

Suggestive reports on Ergot in Sumerian Clay Tablets, Mesopotamian Temples, and Chinese literature:

The Immortality Key — How ergot may be involved in religious influence:

Ergot as an ingredient in the Kykeon:

Downloadable literature:


 2021-06-01  30m