Fungus among us, but what kind? Typing error spawns retraction for mushroom paper

natprodresAs every mushroom lover knows, weekend mycology is no sport for the lily-livered. Tasty species often look awfully like their deadly cousins. Turns out, typing can even be problematic for the experts.

Natural Products Research is retracting a 2014 paper on shelf fungus because… well, it wasn’t about shelf fungus after all.

The paper, “Chemical constituents: water-soluble vitamins, free amino acids and sugar profile from Ganoderma adspersum,” was written by Ibrahim Kivrak, a food chemist at Mugla Sitki Kocman University in Mugla, Turkey. It analyzed the nutritional components of G. adspersum, and found, per the abstract:

Essential amino acid constituted 67.79% of total amino acid, which is well worth the attention with regard to researchers and consumers. In addition, G. adspersum, which is also significantly rich in B group vitamins and vitamin C, can provide a wide range of notable applications in the pharmaceutics, cosmetics, food and dietary supplement industries. G. adspersum revealed its value for pharmacy and nutrition fields.

Not so fast, according to the retraction notice (which appears to be paywalled):

We, the Editors and Publishers of Natural Product Research, are retracting the following article:

Ibrahim Kıvrak, ‘Chemical constituents: water-soluble vitamins, free amino acids and sugar profile from Ganoderma adspersum’. Natural Product Research 29.6 (2015):518–523. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14786419.2014.952234

The author has informed us that the species of mushroom analysed was not Ganoderma adspersum as asserted in the title and article.

We note the article was peer-reviewed, accepted and published in good faith based on the warranties made by the author.

The retracted article will remain online to maintain the scholarly record, but it will be digitally watermarked on each page as RETRACTED

We’ve seen many a-paper die due to a mistaken identity of starting materials, such as cell lines. This particular case reminds us of the time a group of authors retracted their 2006 article in the Journal of Immunology after realizing they’d ordered the wrong strain of genetically modified mice. As in that case, Kivrak deserves praise for doing the right thing — and for having the good sense to be a chemist, not a chef.

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4 thoughts on “Fungus among us, but what kind? Typing error spawns retraction for mushroom paper”

  1. Wang, X., Wang, B., Jia, Y., Huo, D., Duan, C. (2003a) Effect of sound stimulation on cell cycle of chrysanthemum (Gerbera jamesonii). Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces 29: 103-107 (Elsevier)
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0927776502001534

    The title describes chrysanthemum as being Gerbera jamesonii. This is totally incorrect. The correct botanical name for chrysanthemum is Dendranthema grandiflora Ramat Kitamura. The correct botanical name for gerbera is Gerbera jamesonii H. Bolus or Gerbera hybrida. Chrysanthemum is not gerbera.

    This and 9 other concerns submitted to the editors in chief of CSBB and Elsevier staff on August 2, 2013.

    On August 6, 2013:
    “Dear [redacted],

    Thank you for your email from August 2nd.

    As an editor of CSBB, here representing the present team of editors, I assure that we take this complaint seriously and will investigate it.

    kind regards

    Dganit Danino
    Editor
    Colloids and Surfaces B
    ________________________
    Prof. Dganit Danino

    Current address: Langer group, Koch Institute, MIT
    Weitz Lab, SEAS, Harvard University
    Home address:
    Department of Biotechnology and Food Engineering
    Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute and Cryo-EM center of Soft Matter
    Technion, Haifa, Israel 32000
    [phone, fax, e-mail, website redacted]”

    October 25, 2013:
    “Dear [redacted],

    Thanks you for your reminder.

    We have tried to get in contact with Dr Wang about these complaints, but we never received a reply from him. Together with the editors of Colloids and Surfaces B it has now been decided to retract the article.

    I will start the procedure for this today, but it may take some weeks before the retraction is actually online, because retractions first have to be approved by our internal retraction panel.

    With kind regards,

    Rob van Daalen
    Publisher Physical & Theoretical Chemistry
    Elsevier – Amsterdam – The Netherlands
    Tel.:+ 31 (0)20 485 2206
    E-mail: g.daalen@elsevier.com

    February 14, 2014:
    “Dear Dr. Qui,

    Thank you for your reminder. The article has indeed not yet been retracted. I will check where the bottleneck is and soon come back to you with a firm date when the article retraction notice will be published.

    With kind regards,

    Rob van Daalen
    Publisher Physical & Theoretical Chemistry
    Elsevier – Amsterdam – The Netherlands
    Tel.:+ 31 (0)20 485 2206
    E-mail: g.daalen@elsevier.com

    Third reminder sent today.

    1. I would not have been so absolute in judgement based on a non-scientific name – they are not standardised or formally collated (that is why we use scientific names!). Is there evidence that they have not worked on Gerbera jamesonii Adlam?

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