Prized edible Asian mushrooms: ecology, conservation and sustainability
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Mushrooms can be found in forests worldwide and have long been exploited as resources in developed economies because of their important agro-industrial, medicinal and commercial uses. For less developed countries, such as those within the Greater Mekong Subregion, wild harvesting and mushroom cultivation provides a much-needed alternative source of income for rural households. However, this has led to over-harvesting and ultimately environmental degradation in certain areas, thus management guidelines allowing for a more sustained approach to the use of wild mushrooms is required. This article addresses a selection of the most popular and highly sought after edible mushrooms from Greater Mekong Subregion: Astraeus hygrometricus, Boletus edulis, Morchella conica, Ophiocordyceps sinensis, Phlebopus portentosus, Pleurotus giganteus, Termitomyces eurhizus, Thelephora ganbajun, Tricholoma matsuake, and Tuber indicum in terms of value, ecology and conservation. The greatest threat to these and many other mushroom species is that of habitat loss and over-harvesting of wild stocks, thus, by creating awareness of these issues we wish to enable a more sustainable use of these natural products. Thus our paper provides baseline data for these fungi so that future monitoring can establish the effects of continued harvesting on mushroom populations and the related host species.