Volume 10 Part 1 Article 39: The Post-Harvest Metabolism of Cultivated Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)

Volume 10 Part 1 Article 39
Year 1979
Title: The Post-Harvest Metabolism of Cultivated Mushrooms (Agaricus bisporus)
Author: J.B.W. Hammond


Once harvested, mushrooms deteriorate rapidly at room temperature. This deterioration can be retarded by cool storage or pre-packing (Nichols and Hammond, 1973, 1975). The preservation of fresh mushrooms by irradiation has not gained wide popularity. Apart from the loss of water, perhaps one of the most noticeable phenomena during storage at room temperature is the opening of the cap and development of the gills, leading to sporulation. This process occurs during growth but appears to be accelerated after harvest.

Although a considerable amount of time has been expended on investigating the best ways to store harvested mushrooms, less work has been done on the metabolic processes underlying post-harvest development.

Respiration is high compared with other horticultural produce (Lutz and Hardenberg, 1968); this is probably the main reason for the short postharvest life of the mushroom. Quillet and Legrand (1952) reported decreases in mannitol and glycogen (the latter probably included cell wall material) in excised mushrooms. There is also some evidence for the breakdown of nitrogenous materials and increases in protease activity during storage above 0° (Murr and Morris, 1975).

The rapid development of the harvested mushroom must consume large quantities of substrate and perhaps involve changes in the major catabolic pathways. This paper records some of our studies on post-harvest development, the identification of post-harvest respiratory substrates and the metabolism of those substrates.

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