Fungal Diversity

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 49–62 | Cite as

Species clarification of the prize medicinal Ganoderma mushroom “Lingzhi”

  • Yun Cao
  • Sheng-Hua Wu
  • Yu-Cheng Dai


“Lingzhi” is a mushroom that has been renowned in China for more than 2,000 years because of its claimed medicinal properties plus its symbolic fortune. “Lingzhi” has high economic value mostly as a dietary supplement in the modern market especially in East Asia, and its medicinal functions have become a hot study topic. For over a century, the highly prized medicinal fungus, known as “Lingzhi” in East Asia, has been assigned to Ganoderma lucidum, a species originally described from Europe. Molecular studies in recent years have revealed that the commercially cultivated ‘G. lucidum’ (“Lingzhi”) in East Asia is a different species from the true G. lucidum. The present study aims to clarify the species identity of “Lingzhi” based on morphological studies and analysis of rDNA nuc-ITS sequences, and additional gene fragments of mt-SSU, RPB1, RPB2, and TEF1-α of “Lingzhi” were provided. All Ganoderma species that mostly resemble “Lingzhi” in phylogeny and /or morphology were included for analysis. We propose a new species G. lingzhi for “Lingzhi”, which has an East Asia distribution. The most striking characteristics which differentiate G. lingzhi from G. lucidum are the presence of melanoid bands in the context, a yellow pore surface and thick dissepiments (80–120 μm) at maturity. G. curtisii is most closely related to G. lingzhi in phylogeny and is from North America. Ganoderma flexipes, G. multipileum, G. sichuanense, G. tropicum and ‘G. tsugae, are also closely related with G. lingzhi and are reported from China. These species are compared and discussed. ‘Ganoderma tsuage’ reported from China is determined as conspecific with G. lucidum, hence the distribution of G. lucidum extends from Europe to northeastern China.


Ganodermataceae Ganoderma lingzhi G. lucidum Medicinal fungus Phylogeny Taxonomy 



We thank Drs. T.Z. Wei and X.C. Wang (HMAS, China), Prof. L. Ryvarden and Dr. K.-H. Larsson (O, Norway) for loans of specimens. We are grateful to Prof. S. P. Wasser (UOH, Israel) for offering some important literatures and to CBS for offering some Ganoderma cutltures. We are indebted to Dr. D.M. Wang (GIM, China) and Dr. J.M. Moncalvo (ROM, Canada) for offering suggestions during this study. We appreciate Dr. H.S. Yuan (IFP, China) for improving the drawings, and Dr. S.H. He (BJFC, China) for offering some Ganoderma images. Y.C. Dai and S.H. Wu are deeply indebted to Dr. T. Niemelä (H, Finland) for his friendly support of their studies at Botanical Museum of the University of Helsinki. We are grateful to Prof. K.D. Hyde (Chiang Rai, Thailand) for improving the manuscript. The research was financed by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project Nos. 30910103907, 31070022).


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© Mushroom Research Foundation 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Forest and Soil Ecology, Institute of Applied EcologyChinese Academy of SciencesShenyangChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of BotanyNational Museum of Natural ScienceTaichungTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Plant PathologyNational Chunghsing UniversityTaichungTaiwan
  5. 5.Institute of MicrobiologyBeijing Forestry UniversityBeijingChina

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