Monday, May 23, 2011

Industrialisation of a Mushroom

Dryad's Saddle, Polyporus squamosus
The Dryad's Saddle mushroom (Polyporus squamosus) is a large, fleshy agaricomycete that grows in a semi-circular or saddle shaped fashion on a range of both living and dead broad-leaved trees, such as  ash, elm, sycamore and beech (1). Its upper surface is creamy yellow in colour which is marked with concentric rings of brown scales. The under surface appears as a network of pale yellow, polygonal spores.
Underside of Dryad's Saddle, Polyporus squamosus
While P. squamosus is edible, it needs to be picked young as the older mushroom is quite tough and corky. However, if processed, the resultant biomass may present a viable animal, and possible human, source of nutrition (2). In addition, P. squamosus produces pectinases (3), enzymes that degrade pectin and that are used in the fruit industry to improve juice extraction from apples, etc. (4). A polymer-polymer two phase system has been successfully used to produce both P. squamosus biomass and resultant secondary metabolites (5). This method consists of two mutually incompatible structural polymers (namely polyethylene glycol and crude dextran) in solution which brings about a spontaneous separation of phases. This reduces the need for mechanical separation of cells. P. squamosus fungal growth is restricted to the bottom phase, leaving the top phase free.  
Dryad's Saddle, Polyporus squamosus
P. squamosus has also been shown to produce useful xylanase (6) as well as a lectin that shows great potential for usein glycobiological studies in biomedical and cancer research (7), making this method of growth a useful biotechnological tool.

  1. Harding et al., 1996. How To Identify Edible Mushrooms p. 143
  2. Antov and Peričin, 2000. APTEFF 31 pp. 567-573
  3. Antov and Peričin, 2001. Enzyme and Microbial Technology 28 pp. 467-472
  4. Antov, 2004. Carbohydrate Polymers 56 pp. 295-300
  5. Antov et al., 2001. Journal of Biotechnology 91 pp. 83-87
  6. Antov et al., 2006. Process Biochemistry 41pp. 232-235
  7. Ho et al., 2000. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 275 pp. 10623-10629.

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