Isn't it a joy to see these mushrooming in front of your eyes?
Cultivation of common edible mushrooms
We will discuss some of the better known species from both Western and Eastern cultures.
In these species, three methods of cultivation are used:
Agaricus bisporus is the most cultivated mushroom in the world.
The substrate on which it is cultivated includes horse manure, wheat straw, corncobs and several plant or animal wastes.
The composting process is a mixed fermentation involving a range of microorganisms, bacteria and other fungi, which will degrade some of the complex compounds such as lignin and cellulose. The biological activities of the microorganisms make the compost warm. When the compost cools, it will have a consistency similar to that of thick oatmeal and will provide an environment well suited for mycelial growth of A. bisporus. The mycelium that is inoculated into the compost is referred to as the spawn.
Following growth of mycelium throughout the substrate, a casing layer, is placed over the substrate. The casing layer is critical in the fruiting body formation of A. bisporus. The biological activity of bacteria, various soluble salts, together with the lowering of the temperature between 14-18o C, will optimize fruiting body production in A. bisporus.
Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)
It was first cultivated on tree logs. In late 1950's, an important innovation developed in which sawdust was used as the substrate material. This method would become important, not only in cultivation of Pleurotus, but all cultivated mushrooms cultivated on wood.
This process involves placing sawdust in a polypropylene bag that is then sterilized, cooled and inoculated with Pleurotus. The inoculated substrate is now placed in the dark, and after the mycelium has grown throughout the substrate, openings are cut through the bag where fruiting bodies will develop. This process is more ecologically sound because it utilizes waste material as the substrate for cultivation of the mushroom. It also shortens the period of fruitbody formation to approximately two months.
Although P. ostreatus appears to be a popular cultivated mushroom, it is soft, fragile and has the shortest shelf life of any cultivated mushroom. It often has bacterial or fungal contamination within a day or two of arriving at the market place.
Paddy Straw Mushroom (Volvariella volvacea)
Paddy straw is practically the only material used to prepare the substrate for cultivation of the Paddy Straw Mushroom even though other substrates (eg. rice straw, cotton waste, dried banana leaves and oil palm bunch waste) had been successfully used but with lower yield. The cultivation method of this mushroom is similar to that of Agaricus bisporus. In Indonesia and Malaysia, mushroom growers just leave thoroughly moistened paddy straw under trees and wait for harvest.
Truffles (Tuber melanosporum and other related species)
Unlike the other fungi that have been discussed, truffles are actually members of the division Ascomycota rather than Basidiomycota. They grow underground and form mycorrhizae with certain species of European Oaks.
Fungi that form mycorrhizae have never been cultivated, at least not with the two methods previously described, because of their obligate relationship with the roots of trees. Thus, a different strategy was required to "grow" truffles. The environmental and nutritional requirements for formation of fruitbodies of truffles are not known.
In cultivation of truffles, it is important to have a background in ecology as well as mycology in order to grow truffles successfully. T. melanosporum will only grow where its host tree can grow. Within its host range, one method of "cultivating" truffles requires a lot of land where the host trees can be planted. To ensure truffle formation, the mycelium of the truffle is inoculated into the roots of these trees.
Because truffles grow underground, they must be dug out. The best way to find truffles is to let pigs, and sometimes dogs, "sniff" them out.
Mushrooms Cultivated in Singapore
Shiitake Mushroom (Lentinus edodes)
The Shiitake mushroom has the distinctive advantage of a much longer shelf-like because they are more commonly sold dried while most other mushrooms are sold fresh. A great deal of research has been carried out, in Japan, on the nutritional and medicinal value of the Shiitake. It is said to be rich in vitamin D2, has anti-tumor and antiviral properties and removes serum cholesterol from your system.
Do you know you can grow your own Shiitake Mushrooms?
Growing morels on your own? Check this out this web site.
In the local scene...
To bridge the gap between academic R&D activities and business, a few of our Singaporean entrepreneurs took the opportunity to enter business ventures to cultivate mushrooms using agricultural waste.
The cultivation of mushrooms is a blooming business now. At least 15 tonnes of mushrooms are cultivated locally monthly for export and for local markets. Most of the locally-cultivated mushrooms are the Shiitake mushrooms. Those fresh mushrooms you see at your supermarkets could have been harvested from their farms.
Not only have these enterprising entrepreneurs found a way to shorten the production time of certain mushrooms, they can now produce these mushrooms are year round using the latest biotechnological methods!
We will now bring you to visit one of Singapore's local mushroom farms. You will see how mushrooms can be cultivated on waste materials like sawdust under environmentally controlled conditions!
Let us explore a local mushroom farm together!
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