|Dr. Ofer Danay
||Dr. Dan Levanon
Migal, Galilee Research Institute, Kiryat Shmona, Israel
The mushroom research group at MIGAL is the only unit in Israel that deals with applied research on mushroom cultivation and mushroom products. Research efforts of our group include a wide range of topics, addressing the needs of mushroom growers in Israel, particularly those in the northern part of the country. Research is partially performed in co-operation with scientists from other institutions, especially the Faculty of Agriculture of the Hebrew University. Because of the group´s research efforts, mushroom production and consumption in Israel has expanded considerably including the amount of production and number of species cultivated. Here we report the development of a new technology that has potential to improve mushroom production, not only in Israel but worldwide.
Two main substrates are used in Agaricus bisporus cultivation: compost and casing (Levanon and Danai 2004). Compost serves as the main source of nutrition for the mushroom. The casing layer has two main functions: induction of fruit body development and water supply during mushroom growth. Water availability in both casing and compost is crucial for mushroom production, both in terms of quantity and quality. In today´s practice, the use of spray irrigation is halted at certain growth stages as follows: (a) pinning, in order to avoid damage to pin formation and (b) directly on fruit bodies since free water can enhance bacterial blotch (Pseudomonas tolaasii) development. Restricting water may result in dehydration of the growth substrates, limiting production potential of the compost as demonstrated by Sonnenberg & Blok (2012). Restricting water application may require the use of a thick casing layer to serve as a water reservoir. Due to the decrease in compost and casing water content, mushroom quality of the third flush may deteriorate, and thus, many growers choose to produce only two flushes. In order to overcome these obstacles, drip irrigation was developed in an effort to replace spraying as a method of water application in mushroom cultivation.
Trials reported herein were carried out on a commercial mushroom farm with rooms of two rows of 6 shelves high. Synthetic phase I compost was used along with Lambert 901 spawn (USA), Champfood E supplement (Netherlands) and casing of 5-6 cm of Harte peat (Ireland). In some experiments, thickness of the casing was reduced by 15-30% in the drip irrigation treatments. In each experiment, two rooms were used with the same compost batch: a control, with an automatic spraying system (Dofra, Netherlands) and the drip irrigation room. A special drip irrigation system (Fig. 1), developed by Netafim Irrigation Systems (Israel), was used in these experiments. Drip pipelines were incorporated into the casing during CACing with a special device connected to the ruffling machine. The system consisted of: (a) pipelines with pressure compensated, non-leaking low flow (CNL) drippers, (b) computerized controller, with a sophisticated algorithm, that used outputs from the climate control computer and from compost and casing sensors that could operate either in automatic or manual mode, and (c) agro mechanical solutions for implementing and retrieving the drip lines from the substrate. This technical break-through made it possible to irrigate and maintain optimal water content in compost and casing during the entire growing cycle. The system enabled implementation of computerized, sensor-controlled, automatic smart irrigation in mushroom cultivation.
Figure 1. Equipment used for drip irrigation of a mushroom cultivation bed.
Drip irrigation performance
It was demonstrated that the use of drip irrigation during mushroom cultivation retarded the decrease in casing and compost water content. These results were especially pronounced during the 2nd and 3rd flushes. Higher mushroom yields were obtained when drip irrigation was used. Drip irrigation led to improved mushroom quality and therefore higher income for the grower. Based on these results, drip irrigation, in combination with reduced casing layer thickness up to 15-30%, was compared to spray irrigation. With drip irrigation, casing moisture decrease was minimized even on a thinner casing layer. Mushroom yields were also higher with drip irrigation, even when the casing layer thickness was reduced. The incidence of bacterial blotch was recorded when comparing the two watering methods. It was observed that up to 6% of the mushrooms were affected by bacterial blotch when watered by spraying. No bacterial blotch occurred with drip irrigation.
BTI (biological insecticide) was applied through the drip irrigation system and reduced fly populations were observed in the cultivation room. The use of drip irrigation decreases disemination of fungal spores of disease-causing fungi (Verticilium, Mycogone, etc.). It was demostrated that the drip system could also deliver nutritional supplements, pesticides, and other substances according to specific cultivation needs. This situation opens the way for new product applications for mushroom cultivation.
The new drip irrigation system provides the mushroom industry with a new tool. So far, we have found the following benefits: Use of under-surface drip irrigation allows continuous water supply to the casing and compost throughout the entire cultivation cycle. It was demonstrated that the use of this system minimized the decrease in casing and compost water content. Furthermore, the use of drip irrigation allowed a decrease of 15-30% in thickness of the casing layer. World resources of peat-moss, the main ingredient of casing, are decreasing leading to supply limitations and increased prices. There are continuous efforts to recycle peat and develop peat alteratives for its use as casing (Levanon and Danai 2004). Therefore, reduction of peat consumption means not only cost reduction for mushroom growers, but also contibution to preserving a limited natural resource. Another important outcome of the use of drip irrigation, is the (almost) elimination of bacterial blotch and supression of other diseases. In previous studies, means of watering, other than spray irrigation, were suggested, but they were not further developed, to an operation-available technology. Therefore today, there are no under surface water supply systems that allow watering, while keeping casing surface and mushrooms dry. Drip irrigation allows this option, insuring better mushroom quality and higher yields. This system is also energy saving, since there is no need to dry the cultivation rooms, after irrigation. It is estimated that, with the use of drip irrigation, the combined value of reduced costs of casing and energy, plus increased income due to better mushroom yields and quality, allows a fast return on investment. These benefits, along with the advantages of drip irrigation, as mentioned above, led to initial commercialization of the system, after three years of research. A drip irrigation model farm became recently operational in Israel. The next model farm soon will be established in Europe.
The authors thank NETAFIM Israel for their role in development of the drip system and financing of research and the office of the chief scientist (OCS) for their support.
Levanon D, Danai O (2004) Mushroom Production. Concise Encyclopedia of Bioresource Technology [M]. Binghamton, NY USA. The Haworth Press.
Sonnenberg ASM, Blok C (2012). Towards a better understanding of the present production of button mushroom by generating data. Mushroom Science 17: 702-708. China Agriculture Press.
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Dr. Jan I. Lelley,
Inst. for Mushroom Research
Officially we haven´t medicinal mushrooms in Germany. We only have useful mushrooms and some of them also have a medicinal effect - in other words - healing properties. This is similar to, for example, garlic, apples or red wine.
If we speak about medicinal mushrooms, the pharmaceutical industry in my country and its lobby would intervene until the German authorities produced an appropriate regulation to classify mushrooms as medicine. This would result in a long-lasting and extremely expensive process of registration before Ganoderma or Grifola could be used, and this should be avoided. Therefore, we deal with mushrooms which count only as foodstuff, like asparagus, tomato, lemon, apple and others, all of which have specific healing properties.
For many previous decades, we in the western world cultivated only the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) and this only for consumption. Looking at the Proceedings of the International Society for Mushroom Science (ISMS) Congresses, the first contribution on medical effects was published in 1972 in London by Tokita, Shibukawa, Yasumoto and Kaneda from the Department of Food Chemistry, Tohoku University in Senday, Japan. They isolated a plasma-cholesterol reducing substance from shiitake (Lentinula edodes). Two years later, during the 9th ISMS Congress in Japan, at least nine studies dealt with the medical effects of mushrooms, especially those of shiitake.
From this time, and especially from the early nineties, knowledge relating to the medical effects of large mushrooms has grown rapidly. In the interim, China has become the leading country in this context since the use of mushrooms has been part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for several thousands of years. Numerous publications in several journals, international conferences on the topic "medicinal mushrooms" and many providers of medicinal mushroom products give the impression that East Asia - especially China - is the cradle of this field of applied mycology.
However, this statement is not absolutely true.
Without doubt, East Asia and especially China, lead in the cultivation and use of medicinal mushrooms. However, this kind of medicine has also been known in the western hemisphere for thousands of years, and knowledge of medicinal mushrooms and their use was widespread in both Europe and America.
As Christopher Hobbs described in his book "Medicinal Mushrooms - An Exploration of Tradition, Healing and Culture" published in 1995, the Indians of North America used puffballs (Lycoperdon sp.) and earthstars (Geastrum sp.) as well as Fomitopsis officinalis as medicine. In Central and South America, mushrooms were also well known by the native populations, but we are not entirely sure if their use was only medicinal or mainly for generating hallucinogenic or visionary effects.
Europe, especially Germany, also has a long tradition of using mushrooms as medicine. Ancient scholars such as Galen, Dioscorides and mainly Pliny (Gaius Secundus) reported on the applications of a specific mushroom called "Agaricum", which was in reality Laricifomes officinalis, a wood-destroying species, especially of larch.
Later, in the Middle Ages, there are reliable reports on the use of mushrooms in herb preparations for healing purposes. The use of mushrooms, mainly Agaricum, is well documented in "Codex Manuscriptus Medicinalis", published in Germany in 795 A.D, and also in the writings of the outstanding German natural scientist of the 12th century, Hildegard von Bingen.
Friedrich Jacob Merck was a chemist who, in 1668, opened a pharmacy in Darmstadt. From his small shop grew the worldwide pharmaceutical and chemical company, Merck Corporation, which now has an annual turnover of 10 billion euros.
In those years, many herbs were used as medicine. They were both collected and also cultivated in cloistered herb gardens such as that tended to by Hildegard von Bingen. However, the selection of medicines in Friedrich Jacob Merck´s pharmacy also contained mushrooms. Species used at the time included:
* Fomes fomentarius - used to stop bleeding.
* Laricifomes officinalis, Agaricum - also used to stop bleeding, as a laxative, and for chest diseases.
* Langermannia gigantea, Giant Puff Ball - also used to stop bleeding. The paste made from the mature spores was a significant medium in the Middle Ages for stopping bleeding after amputation. In Germany, Langermannia gigantea was also used in homeopathy and always available.
* Auricularia auricula, Jew´s Ear - used for inflammation of the eye and throat.
* Amanita muscaria, Fly agaric - used for malignant tumours and for nervous disorders.
* Phallus impudicus, Stinkhorn - used for gout.
* Boletus satanas, Satan's mushroom - used for gall bladder and liver disorders.
* Armillaria mellea, Honey Fungus - used as a laxative.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the first small factories for herb extract production were set up and the demand for raw material increased. This demand could not be met by collecting the herbs, and cultivation gained greater importance.
So, what happened to the mushrooms? People were unable to cultivate them, and it was not easy to collect mushrooms as herbs. They do not occur in natural locations as reliably and in such abundance as do plants. Therefore, medicinal mushrooms faded more and more into oblivion until, in Europe at least, they were virtually forgotten. Mushrooms were only regarded as edible or poisonous and, after cultivation techniques were developed, some were grown for consumption.
As mentioned above, the ISMS Congress in Japan and Taiwan in 1974 opened the eyes of the delegates from the western hemisphere. Japanese colleagues, especially Dr. Kisaku Mori, showed us several health properties of shiitake and proposed cultivating mushrooms not only for simple consumption as everyday vegetables but also as healthy food.
However, it took almost another twenty years before some western scientists began to pay more attention to the medicinal effect of mushrooms. In the USA, Kenneth Jones, Terry
Willard, Paul Stamets, and especially Christopher Hobbs, published valuable information on this topic using East Asian, mainly Chinese, sources.
As early as 1950, Zeitlmayr in Germany reported on the healing properties of mushrooms. His and also other statements were based on the knowledge of the Middle Ages in Europe. They had nothing in common with the Asian sources. In 1978, Molitoris, former mycology professor in Regensburg (Germany), gave a talk at our Institute on "Fungi as herbs - historical review and outlook". However, at that time, contributions about medicinal mushrooms in the scientific and commercial literature in America and Europe did not lead to their use in practice.
In Germany, the book "The healing power of fungi - healthy with mycotherapy ", which I published in 1997, initiated a development focused on the use, sale and manufacturing of medicinal mushroom products that, so far, remains unbroken. In the interim, the number of people in my country using medicinal mushroom products has constantly increased, and the quantity of available products has increased correspondingly.
During the last fifteen years, several small companies dealing in medicinal mushroom products have set up business in Germany. Most buy mushroom extracts and powders from China, and capsules and tablets incorporating the Chinese raw materials are produced in German factories. Only very few companies cultivate medicinal mushrooms themselves, and these are grown organically. The use of organically grown medicinal mushrooms is regarded as a useful argument when competing with companies who buy material from China. On the other hand, the prices of products imported from China are highly competitive. Let me give you some examples:
The price for powdered shiitake, reishi or maitake - including airfreight from Shanghai to Düsseldorf, Germany - averages 18 Euro/kg. It is simply impossible to produce these materials at such a low cost in Germany. The same is also true for mushroom extracts. Depending on the mushroom species, we can buy extracts in China - including airfreight - for between 90 and 140 Euro/kg.
Of course, without reliable partners, there are risks associated with buying these products in China, and it takes time to establish a good partnership with Chinese companies. However, after establishing good connections with Chinese managers, you will not have problems with the quality of the products or with the terms of shipment. Regular buyers receive an official certificate, which contains data evaluating the quality of a product.
The German market for medicinal mushroom products is still small but is constantly increasing. Considering the fact that Germans in general have a high affinity for alternative medicinal methods, the economic opportunities for companies dealing in medicinal mushrooms in my country are not bad. Different methods are used to market the products:
Sale to consumers via the internet is well established. In addition, several pharmacies place medicinal mushroom products on their shelves, or alternatively buy and sell to customers according to order. Also, some medical doctors with a special qualification in alternative medicine prescribe or recommend such products to their patients. These so-called Heilpraktiker, which is a specific medical profession in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, are also highly interested in medicinal mushrooms.
However, the problem we have to face is the still undecided status of medicinal mushrooms and their products in Germany. Manufacturing companies and consumers classify them as food supplements, while some local and federal authorities, but especially representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, classify them as medicines. The pharmaceutical industry has started to fight companies which are involved in the medicinal mushroom business and claim they are in fact dealing in and selling unauthorized medicines.
Summarizing the present situation, there is no doubt about the successful introduction of a new use of large mushrooms. They are available today not only as food but some are also used as food supplements. However, this development has not led to significantly higher mushroom production in Germany, not even in cases where they are used primarily for food supplement production.
In Germany, we anticipate a constantly increasing demand for powdered and extracts of so-called medicinal mushrooms. Although only used as food supplements, consumers like them, medical doctors and Heilpraktiker recommend them, and all involved have learned a lot about their very satisfying therapeutical effects. I believe the use of mushroom powders and extracts for maintaining good health and also for curing various disorders has been firmly established in Germany.
The question is how we handle the status of these mushrooms and the products made from them. Can we establish nutriceuticals as a new class of products, or can we use them alternatively as food supplements? Perhaps in future, some of them can also be registered as medicines. It is a very exciting question.
At the present time, it is difficult to predict whether the pharmaceutical industry has started to pay more attention to mushrooms, and also if it has perhaps started using them as a source of new medicines.
However, I believe that even if the pharmaceutical industry uses mushrooms as a source of medicines, fruit body production will not increase, not even in Germany. I suspect that, if the pharmaceutical industry does not have sufficient access to the natural fungal material, it will make tremendous efforts to establish liquid or solid state fermentation technologies to produce fungal biomass. Finally dried mycelium powder or, alternatively, mycelial extracts, will be used for manufacturing commercial products.
However, even then, the pharmaceutical industry will not seriously enter the medicinal mushroom business, and the sale of such products will remain in the hands of small companies. I do not believe such a development could help to establish relevant medicinal mushroom farms in Germany, or generally within the Western World. I believe the tremendous advantages of using Chinese suppliers, especially the offer of low prices on the one hand and the provision of good-quality material on the other, cannot be beaten, at least within the next two decades. Additionally, economic exchange with China is also a high priority from a political point of view in most industrialised countries. Consequently, it seems very clear to me that we are going to buy and use Chinese fungal material as a source for nutriceutical production in Germany. Therefore, the use of medicinal mushrooms will remain a remarkable factor in the future of health care in Germany.
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Dr. Manjit Singh
Directorate of Mushroom Research
Solan (HP), India
The Eighth International Conference on Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products 2014 will be held in New Delhi, India by WSMBMP in collaboration with the Mushroom Society of India (Directorate of Mushroom Research, Solan, India). The National Centre for Mushroom Research and Training (NCMRT), now referred to as Directorate of Mushroom Research, was established in 1983 under the aegis of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. This Directorate is the only institute exclusively dedicated to mushroom research and development in the country. The Directorate has developed an array of technologies for cultivation of different mushrooms in various agro-climatic regions of the country. The Directorate is also the headquarters of All India Coordinated Research Project with 16 Centres across the country. The Mushroom Society of India (MSI) was established in August 1990. In the same year, MSI started publication of the journal "Mushroom Research". Since its establishment, the Society has organized conferences at regular intervals.
The cultivation of mushrooms is a relatively new phenomenon in India and has increased across the country only during last few decades. India has registered a 20-fold increase in production of mushrooms in the last four decades. In India, mushroom production systems are of mixed type i.e., both seasonal as well as high-tech, yearround cultivation. With varied agro-climatic conditions, abundant agricultural residues (c. 700 MT) and plenty of manpower, India has tremendous potential for cultivation of different mushrooms. Hosting this conference in India will give a boost to Indian mushroom R&D and also provide a chance for scientists and mushroom growers worldwide to see seasonal mushroom cultivation practices in India during winter months.
The program of the 8th ICMBMP will comprise plenary lectures by key mushroom researchers. Also, Ph.D. students and young scientists will be given an opportunity to present their research during the main session and as a poster. A trade exhibition will be held concurrently with the scientific programme from 19-22 November 2014 for organizations to showcase their services, products and technologies. The local organising committee consists of members of Directorate of Mushroom Research, Solan (HP), India that include Dr. Manjit Singh, Dr. R.C. Upadhyay, Dr. B. Vijay, Dr. V.P. Sharma, Dr. O.P. Ahlawat, Dr. Satish Kumar, Dr. Shwet Kamal and Dr. K. Manikandan.
Contact email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org. A dedicated 8th ICMBMP Web Site is under construction and not yet accessible. Until then you will find information at www.mushroomsociety.in and www.wsmbmp.org We look forward to welcoming you in New Delhi (India) in November 2014!
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The WSMBMP Bulletin is the official electronic publication of the World Society for Mushroom Biology and Mushroom Products. The bulletin is intended to keep members informed about Council activities and to share general information about mushrooms. It is designed to allow communication between society members and alert them about new topics and opportunities related to mushrooms. Society members and general public are kindly invited to submit letters, comments and information of interest for the mushroom community to be published in the bulletin. Please submit your contributions electronically in free format to the editors JosÃ© E. Sanchez email@example.com, John Buswelljabuswell2003@yahoo.co.uk, Daniel J. Royse firstname.lastname@example.org or Helen Grogan email@example.com.
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