The Mystical World of Mushrooms

  • V. K. Bhalerao
  • A. P. Gaikwad
  • C. D. Deokar
  • K. S. Raghuwanshi


The mushrooms have existed approximately 130 million years ago, i.e., long before human beings evolved on this planet as per the fossil records. Earlier in Sanskrit mushroom is known as “Ksuonpa.” In Hindi, mushroom is known as “Khumbi.” Since long mushrooms are worshiped and also considered as divine. In nature, mushrooms have not only been a source of food for man and other animals but also have contributed an important role in the cycling of carbon and other elements through the breakdown of lignocellulolytic plant residues and animal dung which serves as the substrates for these saprophytic fungi. The historical records of intentionally cultivated mushrooms estimated that the first mushroom cultivation was started in 600 AD. In the last 20 years, much progress has been made in the field of mechanization of mushroom cultivation, i.e., manure turners, spawning, filling and casing of trays, mechanical harvesting, and polythene bag method of cultivation. In India, cultivation of edible mushrooms is of very recent origin, though methods of cultivation of them were known for many years. The research on different aspects, viz., production, productivity, spawn production, strain improvement, post-harvest technology disease, and pest management, was attempted by several scientists. All mushrooms belong to the group of fungi, a group very distinct from plants, animals, and bacteria. Most fungi have plant-like cells but miss the most important features of plants. The known number species of fungi was about 69,000 till 1990, while it was conservatively estimated that 1.5 million species of fungi actually existed in nature.

Mushrooms are cultivated throughout the world. About 200 species of more than 2000 edible fungi are widely adopted for human consumption. Out of these, only 10–12 species are commercially cultivated since the past few decades in India due to technical advancement. Mushrooms have the capacity to produce highest proteins per unit area and time by utilizing vertical space which is hundred times more than the traditional agriculture and animal husbandry. This hi-tech horticulture venture can reduce the pressure on cultivated land to meet the food shortages all over the world. More than 100 countries are engaged in mushroom farming today which is increasing at an annual rate of 6–7% per annum. The very high levels of mechanization and automation were achieved in mushroom farming in developed countries of Europe and America. As per FAO Stat, the present world production of mushrooms is around 3.5 million tonnes, which is more than 25 million tonnes (estimated) as per claims of Chinese Association of Edible Fungi.The mushrooms can be cultivated under varied climatic conditions. Some of the economically important mushrooms cultivated all over the world under temperate, subtropical, and tropical conditions are Agaricus bisporus, Lentinula edodes, Flammulina velutipes, Agaricus bitorquis, Pleurotus spp., Auricularia spp., Agrocybe aegerita, Volvariella spp., Calocybe indica, Ganoderma lucidum, etc.

Mushrooms are rich source of proteins, carbohydrates, valuable salts, and vitamins in diet of human being. Mushroom fungus has the ability to secrete a wide variety of hydrolyzing and oxidizing enzymes which have potential for biotechnological applications. More than 100 medicinal edible mushrooms have been identified. However, important medicinal mushrooms are Lentinus edodes (shiitake mushroom), Ganoderma lucidum (reishi mushroom), Grifola frondosa (maitake mushroom), Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster mushroom), Agaricus bisporus (button mushroom), Coriolus versicolor (PSK), Boletus edulis, Tremella fuciformis, Auricularia polytricha, Hericium erinaceus, and Cordyceps sinensis.


Mushrooms Oyster mushroom Agaricus sp. Medicinal values Cultivation Commercial production Nutritional resource 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. K. Bhalerao
    • 1
  • A. P. Gaikwad
    • 2
  • C. D. Deokar
    • 3
  • K. S. Raghuwanshi
    • 3
  1. 1.AICRP on Fruits, Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, RahuriAhmednagarIndia
  2. 2.AICRP on MushroomCollege of AgriculturePuneIndia
  3. 3.Department of Plant PathologyMahatma Phule Krishi VidyapeethAhmednagarIndia

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