A Minireview on Mushroom: Emphasis on the Wild Mushroom of Jordan (Review Articles)

Abdulazeem S. Salhab


Mushrooms are large and highly diverse group of organisms called fungi that are similar in many aspects to plants. Since mushroom lack the chlorophyll pigments, thus, mushroom cannot produce their own food, but, they obtain their food by breaking down dead organic matter (saprobes) or in some cases by attacking and living on or within other living plants (parasites). From taxonomic point of view, most mushroom species belong to Basidiomycetes and few species belong to Ascomycetes mushrooms. The number of mushroom species on earth is estimated to be 140,000 and only 14.000 species of them are known.1,2

Mushrooms are considered to be a rich source for nutrients and biologically active compounds. The market values for medicinal mushrooms, and their derivative dietary supplements, world-wide was about US$ 1.2 billion in 1991 and then Jumped to US$ 6 billion in 1999.3,4 Mushrooms similar to medicinal plants have a great potential for production of useful bioactive compounds that belong to several chemical groups. The pharmacologically active compounds from mushrooms have a wide spectrum of activities such as: antimicrobial, antitumor, antiallergic, immunomodulating, anti-inflammatory, antiatherogenic, hypoglycemic, hepatoprotective and centrally active compounds.5-9 Further, attention is now being paid to the possibility of using mushrooms as a source of protein for human diets in underdeveloped countries, because some mushroom types (e.g. truffles) are relatively rich in protein contents. Mushrooms which are presently under cultivation rank above all vegetables and most legumes in protein content and have significant levels of B and C vitamins and a low content of fats and cholesterol.10-12 B-glucan, isolated from mushrooms such as Phellins linteus for example, is a polysaccharide in the form of fiber. B-glucagon has lipid-lowering effects, blood sugar reduction, weight reduction, immune modulator and anticarcinogenic effect.14-16 Furthermore, Lentinus edodes and Grifol frondosa mushrooms have been shown to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive rats as well as to decrease cholesterol blood level. Agaricus are reported to activate T-lymphocytes and to augment immune function in tumor-bearing rats.17, 18

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