Higher Basidiomycetes represent a taxonomically, ecologically, and physiologically extremely diverse group of eukaryotic organisms. Recently, extensive research on these fungi has markedly increased mainly due to their potential use in a variety of biotechnological applications, particularly for the production of food, enzymes, dietary supplements, and pharmaceutical compounds (Cohen et al., 2002; Wasser, 2002). Many pharmaceutical substances with unique properties were extracted from mushrooms. The cholesterol lowering, anti-diabetic, and immunomodulating compounds are ready for industrial trials and further commercialization, while others are in various stages of development. Some of these substances are not strictly pharmaceutical products (medicines) but rather they represent a novel class of dietary supplements or nutriceuticals. The most important new pharmaceutical products from medicinal mushrooms include polysaccharides, antioxidants, and lectins (Guillot and Konska, 1997; Wasser, 2002; Ng, 2004). In the last few years, there has been significant interest in the use of mushrooms and/or mushroom extracts as dietary supplements based on theories that they enhance immune function and promote health.
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ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)