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1) Write an essay entitled The biotechnology and cultivation of fungi as food for human consumption.

Biotechnology can be defined as the application of living organisms such as bacteria, fungi etc. and their components to processes and products that is beneficial to human beings. Some of the most important organisms used in biotechnology are fungi. Products and processes involving fungi are as follows: Food applications: Brewing and baking both are dependent on the conversion of sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide by yeasts. Early processes in baking were dependent on contamination of flour dough by wild yeasts, today pure strains are normally employed and approximately 1.5 million tons of bakers yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is produced worldwide every year. The growth of the mould Penicillium roqueforti in the body of blue-veined cheese and surface growth of the moulds Penicillium candidum, Penicillium caseicolum or Penicillium camemberti on camembert, brie etc play an important role in the development of the characteristic flavours of these cheeses. Fermentation commonly involves Aspergillus oryzae which is used to produce commercially important enzymes to produce soy sauce and alcoholic beverages. Edible mushroom Agaricus bisporus is the most commonly cultivated mushroom in the UK. There are about 3000 species of macro fungi in the UK of which about 100 species are edible, about 20 species are poisonous and about 4 are fatal. 90% of fatality by mushroom poisoning is caused by Amanita phalloides (death cap). A recent innovation in food technology is the development of single cell protein and mycoprotien -quorn fungus Fusarium venenatum (previously F. Graminearum). The filamentous nature of the biomass is responsible for the meat-like texture and appearance of the final product. Useful Products: Fermentation technology is also used to produce many industrial products like citric acid using Aspergillus niger etc. Fungi are also well known as a source of antibiotics. Penicillin, perhaps the most famous of all antibiotic drugs, is derived from a common fungus Penicillium. Many other fungi also produce antibiotic substances, which

are now widely used to control diseases in human and animal populations Other processes: Fungi are also employed to degrade toxic wastes. A recent report indicates that lignin-degrading fungi can even degrade synthetic textile polymers like nylon previously thought to be nonbiodegradable. Fungi are also used as biocontrol agent to kill insects (mycoinsecticides) and weeds (mycoherbicides). This method is generally cheaper and less damaging to the environment than the chemical pesticides. Chinese caterpillar fungus or Ophiocordyceps sinensis parasitise insects and is extremely useful for controlling crop pests. It also has used as a medicinal mushroom in some parts of Asia. Fungi have also been used to control Colorado potato beetles which affect potato crops. Spittlebugs, leaf hoppers and citrus rust mites are some of the other insect pests which have been controlled using fungi. Thus several species of fungi have now been commercially formulated as mycoinsecticides. Cultivation: Approximately 5x 106 tonnes of edible fungi are produced worldwide, 54% of which are grown cultivated in China. Some of the edible fungi so produced include Volvariella volvacea (Paddy Straw Mushroom) - 0.3 x 106 tonnes produced in China, Taiwan and Indonesia every year; Auricularia spp. 0.4 x 106 tonnes produced annually in China; Lentinus edodes (Shiitake) 0.8 x 106 tonnes produced annually in China and Japan and Pleurotus spp. (Oyster mushroom) 0.8 x 106 tonnes produced annually in China. Agaricus bisporus is the most commonly cultivated mushroom mainly produced in China, USA, Europe (mainly France, Netherland and UK) and other temperate zones. Approximately 2 x 106 tonnes are produced worldwide of which worth 3 billion at farmgate. 1.5 billion worth of mushroom is produced in Europe and 3kg per head eaten annually. In the UK 165 million worth of mushroom is produced which corresponds to 300 million retail value.

Five key stages involved in the cultivation of Agaricus bisporus in the UK are as follows: Initial composting provides a mushroom substrate or a surface that is receptive to growing of mushroom spores. Horse and/or chicken manure and straw are used as composts in the UK whereas corn cobs, tobacco stems, pig manure, municipal garbage, sewage sludge removes etc are also used elsewhere. This removes soluble aldehyde compounds CHO leaving cellulose and lignin. This also contains Nitrogen as amino acids and proteins; biotin and thiamine as vitamins. Acetate a growth factor is also added. Finally gypsum (calcium sulphate) is added at pH6.5-7.5 and kept aerated and in friable (crumbly) texture. The compost is maintained at approx 75 degrees and the process takes about 14 days. The next step is compost pasteurising to destroy pests and diseases in the compost. High ammonia content is deadly for the mushroom spawn stage and so it is removed by administering high heat or low heat. The temperature of mushroom substrate is slowly reduced to approximately 60 degrees, 1-2 degrees per day before beginning to plant. This process takes about 5 days. Stage three involves spawn running in which the spawn of mushrooms are spread over the compost and mixed into it. Spawns have mycelium growing on it already. As it grows further, heat is generated so the compost temperature should be controlled at about 75 degrees. If the temperature is too high the spawn would be killed and if the temperature falls down, the process slows down. This process takes about 20 days. Stage four is the applying of a casing to the top of the compost. This helps as a water reservoir and as a spot for the mushrooms to spread in. A 2.5 cm layer of non sterile peat and chalk is prepared at 1:1 ratio mixture is applied which triggers mushroom formation eg Agaricus campestris. As the mushrooms spread, the temperature is allowed to lower. There are various theories surrounding casing mechanism such as nutrient deficiency, removal or retaining of volatile inhibitors/stimulants eg ethanol, CO2 etc, microbial siderophores releaseing iron from peat, and other microbial effects like mushroom primordial form when hyphae reach bacteria or Pseudomonas putida

streaded ahead of fungal growth. Casing is maintained at 22 degrees and the process takes about 22 days.The mushrooms start to grow and pins emerge which grow bigger and become buttons, and these enlarge to become mushrooms. Introduction of fresh air and water is important at this stage. The final stage is cropping in which the mushrooms are harvested. There are repeated 3-5 days harvest periods during the cropping cycle. Air temperature is maintained at approx 60 degrees. Lower temperature helps mushrooms grow and slows the growth of insects and other harmful pathogens. They are then packaged and ready to be sold. It takes approximately 13 weeks to complete entire production cycle.