Volume 19 Part 1 Article 79: Domestication of Wild Edible Mushrooms in Eastern Africa: A Review of Research Advances and Future Prospects

Volume 19 Part 1 Article 79
Year 2016
Title: Domestication of Wild Edible Mushrooms in Eastern Africa: A Review of Research Advances and Future Prospects
Author: Susan Mwai and Nyawira Muchane

Mushroom farming is an emerging industry in Africa with great potential to provide a stable income to small-scale farmers. However, the mushroom farming is still dominated with a few exotic varieties (Agaricus, Pleurotus, Lentinula, Ganoderma) cultured from imported mother cultures whose lineages have poor regional adaptability, low yields and increased pests and diseases susceptibility. Although there has been increased effort to exploit and domesticate native strains of mushroom species with desirable characteristics for commercial cultivation, the information concerning their domestication status, challenges and future prospects is still scattered and not clear. The purpose of this paper was to review and detail the diversity of potential and already domesticated wild edible (medicinal) mushrooms species in Eastern Africa, their domestication status, nutritional value in comparison to introduced exotic species and availability of their germplasm (mother cultures). To achieve this, a detailed review of published and un-published research articles, books and thesis from Eastern Africa was conducted. Data was collected only from articles focusing on diversity of wild edible (medicinal) mushrooms, their nutritional composition and domestication methods and status.

From the review, 258 wild edible mushrooms species are shown to have desirable characteristics for utilization as food and medicine, with Tanzania documenting the highest number of wild edible species (118) followed by Malawi (47). Among this, 82 species were edible ectomycorrhiza species with great potential in supporting mushroom industry if sustainably harvested and managed. The rest were saprophytic fungi species. Only 9 species (Pleurotus flabellatus, Coprinus cinereus, Volvariella volvocea, Pleurotus citrinopileatus, Auricularia auricula, Pleurotus djamor, Pleurotus HK-37, Pleurotus sp and Oudemansiella tanzanica) among saprophytic group have been tissue cultured, tested for spawn production and cultivation. 40 species have been analyzed for nutritional composition. However, none of these have been commercially introduced in cultivation and availability of their mother cultures (germplasm) for research and propagation purpose is uncertain. The result from this study clearly shows research on domestication of wild edible mushrooms in Africa is still in its infancy stages. Establishment of a national and regional Fungi Gene Bank and Spawn Production Centers in Africa may enhance storage of potential fungi germplasm for further research and propagation purposes.

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