What is a hybrid strain in the magic mushroom world?
Hybrids emerge from a successful genetic cross between mushrooms. In other words, the hybrid magic mushroom is the result of the cross breeding of different species to create a new one. It is said that if the mushroom that fruits from this fusion produces spores, and therefore can reproduce, it is considered a new strain of mushroom: a hybrid mushroom.
In nature, by mixing genes, the new fungus can handpick the strongest traits from each parent species, creating a super-fungus. This phenomenon in biology is called introgressive hybridization or introgression and allows natural selection to create the most adaptive specie. This is, in some way, what mycologists reproduce in vitro. They isolate genes and decide which traits to keep; obviously, high levels of psilocybin is amongst the favourite characteristic alongside strange morphologies like the Penis Envy family. These very potent magic mushrooms are often called “super strains”, like the Koh Samui Super Strain, which is a boosted version of the original Koh Samui Psilocybe.
At Micro Zoomers, “hybrid” is a term we’ll use to describe a mushroom that is the in vitro result of the cross breeding of different species to create a new one.
Why do mycologist engineer hybrids?
As we previously explained, by mixing the genetic maps from different species, a hybrid is able to gather the strongest traits of each parent to become a “better” version of them. It is said that pure hybrids are relatively rare in nature. One reason is that hybrids often have a reduced fitness compared to their parents. Therefore, co-existing in the same environment as their parents often leads their non-optimized traits (size, type) to be outcompeted by their parents. Mycologists who recreate the hybridisation process in vitro, optimize the ecosystem and isolate genes that carry traits they want to push forward, making explorative possibilities endless. Surely, isolating specific traits allows mycologists to correct faults, such as weak sporulation. A weak sporulation doesn’t go hand in hand with a prosperous harvest as dropping spores is what allows the mushroom to reproduce.
For example, the extremely potent Albino penis envy, is much appreciated for its phallic-shaped milky gorgeousness but has the bad habit of being a very slow grower with a meaty cap that rarely opens enough to release spores, making the harvesting very tedious and rarely fruitful.
To alter these faulty traits, a mycologist developed Albino Penis Envy Revert aka ApeR, a stabilized mutant sub-strain of Albino Penis Envy. It seems that reverting it closer to its original genetics of Psilocybe cubensis helped improve its harvest and cultivation. The ApeR is equally potent as Albino Penis Envy, but grows much faster, is more resistant, drops generous amounts of spores, and fruits easily. Though it is not a true albino and has a slightly odd smell, you can imagine it has nonetheless been warmly welcomed by growers and consumers alike.
Another good example could be Albino Goldies aka AA+ Goldies or Leucistic Golden Teachers. This hybrid psilocybin mushroom specie that was developed using genetics from the very potent Albino A+ and smoother trippy Golden Teacher, from its parents, inherited the refined temper of the Teacher and the slightly depigmented golden looks of the Albino. We can say they have the raw intensity of the AA+ and the versatile smooth wisdom of the Golden Teacher.
To answer the question “why do mycologists engineer hybrids?”, they do so to create a better version of strains they appreciate, by gathering within a hybrid the strongest traits of each parent. It is said that hybridization in diverse organismal groups has been instrumental in the formation of adaptive diversity, surely, in contemporary magic mushroom mycology, the goal is somewhat the same, with psilocybin being at the forefront of the adventure. Mycologists are on a roll. Let’s keep our eyes open.
How do fungi mate?
Animals and humans have developed a very distinct procedure of reproduction. It requires sexual organs to do the mating and sex cells to carry the genetic information. Fungi, by contrast, do not have separate sexes. The differences are all in the genome, at two separate locations (loci), each of which have two alternate (allele) forms. The locations are named A and B and the two alternates are called “alpha” and “beta.”
That results in four possible sexes, but, since A and B can have many different variants, it amounts to more than 339 variants (specificities) for A and 64 for B.
Here comes thousands of possible unique sexes and a ton of options for mating!
Fungi can mate with any specificity as long as a difference exists on both locations A and B. This difference is the opening from which they will be able to merge their cells, share genetics and carry out the reproductive process. It is an asexual fusion of cells. If the door is open and compatible with the other, mating happens.
Now this asexual mating process, which never requires light, happens in the depths of the underground, where their filaments (hyphae) bump into another set of hyphae and let them fuse, to form a connection from which will fruit a new mushroom.
These filamentous cells (hyphae) contain the cell sap, including the nuclei which contains all the genetic material. Hyphae absorb nutrients, they are like stomachs and lungs, vital to life.
To create hybrids in vitro, the initial process of hyphae growing is said to be possible by germinating spores of different breeds, isolating them, and once each are fully colonized, mixing both grains together. The hyphae of the two mushrooms then fuse to form a clamp connection, from that clamp connection fruits a new mushroom that will grow in the soil nearby.
Once this mushroom fruits, take the spores and grow them, now the process of isolating the genetics starts.
It is a long meticulous process, where contamination is a constant challenge; patience and thoroughness are a must. Psilocybe cubensis, which is known to offer great resistance to contamination, is the most widespread magic mushroom out there, either growing naturally or cultivated. From Psilocybe cubensis a great variety of hybrids have seen the day.
The Penis Envy Family:
Steven Pollock, a long-time believer in the therapeutical powers of psychedelic mushrooms and the first to document Psilocybe tampanensis, through a timely and refined genetic isolation process, came to create the specie we know of today as the famous and extremely potent Penis Envy or PE.
The story of this dense phallic shaped mutant psilocybian cubensis is said to originate in the 70s from the healthy grounds of the Amazonian rainforest.
It involves legendary entheogenic botanist/mycologist Terence McKenna coming across a gargantuan patch of beasty looking mushrooms. In the magic mushroom community, some suspect it was the specimen that later gave birth to the popular P. Amazonian strain aka PESA).
Back in his Colorado home state he started cultivating mushroom species with the spore prints he had collected and sent samples to colleagues from around the world, including Dr. Steven Pollock (note that unlike mushrooms, spore prints are legal to travel with). The rumor has it Pollock is the one to have developed the PE strain we know of today. Though that magic mushroom presents a laborious and slow growth, it is nonetheless reputed to be the one of the most cultivated and appreciated of the cubensis hybrids.
One can only suspect that the artistry behind Pollock’s long and intricate process to refine the specie. If in biology, they refer to introgressive hybridization and say it can act to transfer adaptive traits between species and thereby be a mechanism that speeds up adaptive evolution, with PE, the looks definitely out shun the function. In a way when humans try to control hybridization, they pro-create and clone, narrowing singular strengths in the genetics and boosting them to their maxima.
Since McKenna and Pollock’s original isolations, Penis Envy has conceived other popular sub-strains such as Albino Penis Envy, Uncut Penis Envy, Albinos Penis Envy Revert, Texas Penis Envy, Trans Envy, and Penis Envy #6.
It is undeniable that through the agile hands of avid mycologist-engineers, the world of mushrooms is giving way to a new generation of odd-looking sub-strain hybrids aka super-strains. We will explore below the variations of Penis Envy sub-strains and how mycologists helped improve them.
The Penis Envy Strain:
Penis Envy is a unique phallic shaped mutant magic mushroom strain said to originate in the 70s, from the healthy grounds of the Amazonian rainforest, where legendary entheogenic botanist/mycologist Terence McKenna came across a gargantuan patch of beastly looking mushrooms.
Some suspect a specimen from that patch later gave birth to the popular and very potent Amazon strain aka PESA.
Alongside most of the members of its family, the Penis Envy Strain is considered one of the most potent hybrid magic mushrooms out there.
Because of its high potency it is said to be a favourable candidate for microdosing. Consumers seem to often refer to the energetic nature of the Penis Envy. Athletes who have tried microdosing Penis Envy describe a sharp and grounded focus alongside a spontaneous talent with composing strategies. A boxer described feeling the moves of his opponent before they came.
The Albino Penis Envy:
The Albino Penis Envy “APE” is easily recognizable by its small bulbous stature, its depigmented flesh and the overall phallic appearance it inherited from its parent, the Penis Envy Strain. It is a milky white and smaller version of the infamous Penis Envy mixed with Albino PF strains. The Albino Penis Envy is a small and densely potent hybrid magic mushroom that fascinates.
Described as offering one of the most powerful psilocybin high, higher than PE, Albino Penis Envy “APE” is an extremely potent mushroom recommended to experienced trippers and mindful-careful newbies.
Like its parent Penis Envy, it has the reputation to be a good energy-enhancing strain when microdosed.
While it offers the consumer energy, it seems to be taking a lot from cultivators who describe a slow and demanding growth process. APE demands subtropical conditions, and has a difficult harvest: while its cap rarely shows gills, its spores are transparent and rather rare to drop.
However challenging the cultivation, it remains one of the ultimate cherished strains out there, notorious for both its unique looks and the incomparable journey it provides.
The Albino Penis Envy Revert:
Albino Penis Envy Revert also known as ApeR is a stabilized mutant sub-strain of the famous and very potent magic mushroom strain Albino Penis Envy. It was known in the community of magic mushroom cultivators that Albino Penis Envy had trouble dropping spores as its caps rarely opened.
By reverting APE closer to its original genetics of Psilocybe cubensis, the mycologist-engineer helped improve the overall morphology to optimize a more generous harvest and an easier cultivation.
The ApeRevert is that better version of APE magic mushroom. Said to be as equally potent as Albino Penis Envy yet to grow much faster, to drop generous amounts of spores, and to fruit easily. I mean, why not revert after all! Though ApeR is not a true albino and has a slightly odd smell, it has nonetheless been warmly welcomed by growers and consumers alike. Known to be one of the strongest and hard hitting strain, it is recommended to experienced trippers only or for microdosing to enhance energy levels.
It is evident that the artistry of magic mushrooms engineering is giving way to a wide variety of hybrids. Micro Zoomers is there to archive and share with you all the newest strains of magic mushrooms out there. Feel welcome to share your knowledge with us!