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Researchers identify potential caterpillar fungus for the production of bioactive compounds

Ophiocordyceps sinensis: A potential caterpillar fungus for the production of bioactive compounds
Graphical abstract. Credit: Exploratory Research and Hypothesis in Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.14218/ERHM.2023.00040

Ophiocordyceps sinensis, known for its extensive use in traditional Asian medicine, grows in high-altitude regions of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This rare and expensive fungus has generated increasing global demand, leading to the need for artificial cultivation techniques to produce bioactive compounds.

A review highlights the , culture systems, and fermentation processes involved in the production of bioactive compounds from O. sinensis. It also discusses the biological properties at the genomic level essential for developing synthetic media. Utilizing a bibliometric analysis, the review includes insights from 135 research articles, with a focus on the production of bioactive compounds and "x-omics" studies.

The findings are published in the journal Exploratory Research and Hypothesis in Medicine.

The findings reveal the genetic basis for fungal biology, host specificity, and mechanisms underlying fruiting body development and cold adaptation. This review underscores the potential of cultured O. sinensis as an alternative to natural strains, emphasizing the design and formulation of solid media for enhanced production of fruiting bodies and bioactive compounds.

The medicinal mushroom market is rapidly expanding due to its therapeutic and cosmetic applications. Cordyceps, a genus of parasitic fungi, has seen significant growth, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Among these, Ophiocordyceps sinensis stands out for its extensive pharmacological properties and economic value. Given its limited natural resources and high market demand, there is a pressing need for efficient artificial cultivation methods.

Ophiocordyceps sinensis, a species reclassified from Cordyceps sinensis, infects host larvae and forms a complex structure comprising dark brown fruiting spores and white mycelium. This fungus produces a range of bioactive compounds with anti-tumor, anti-aging, anti-fatigue, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherosclerosis, and antioxidant activities. It also shows potential in treating male sexual disorders and enhancing athletic performance.

The high demand for O. sinensis has driven extensive research into artificial cultivation techniques, primarily focusing on submerged and solid-state cultivation.

This method is advantageous for large-scale production, utilizing various artificial media to optimize the yield of mycelial biomass, exopolysaccharides, and cordycepin. Research indicates that specific culture conditions and medium components, such as sucrose and coconut water, significantly enhance biomass and exopolysaccharide production. Submerged cultivation offers controlled conditions, making it easier to manipulate and enhance the production of desired bioactive compounds.

While C. militaris has been extensively cultivated using substrates like and soybean seeds, the cultivation of O. sinensis fruiting bodies is more challenging. However, substrates like rice grains, silkworm pupae, and germinated soybeans have shown promise in producing bioactive compounds in solid-state cultures. This method mimics natural growth conditions more closely and is critical for producing fruiting bodies with similar properties to wild O. sinensis.

O. sinensis produces various bioactive compounds, including polysaccharides, nucleosides, and sterols, which exhibit multiple pharmacological activities. These compounds have been isolated from wild fungi, fermented mycelia, and culture supernatants, demonstrating significant antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and antitumor effects. The ability to produce these compounds artificially opens up new possibilities for pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications.

Advancements in genomics and related "x-omics" fields have provided deeper insights into the biology and potential of O. sinensis. These studies reveal the genetic basis for fungal biology, host specificity, and mechanisms underlying fruiting body development and cold adaptation. Understanding these is crucial for optimizing artificial cultivation techniques and improving yield and quality of bioactive compounds.

The artificial of Ophiocordyceps sinensis holds significant potential for the sustainable production of valuable . Advances in genomic studies and culture techniques will pave the way for improved synthetic media and large-scale production methods. Continued research in this area will enhance our understanding and utilization of this potent medicinal fungus.

More information: Paulchamy Chellapandi et al, Ophiocordyceps sinensis: A Potential Caterpillar Fungus for the Production of Bioactive Compounds, Exploratory Research and Hypothesis in Medicine (2023). DOI: 10.14218/ERHM.2023.00040

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Citation: Researchers identify potential caterpillar fungus for the production of bioactive compounds (2024, June 17) retrieved 19 July 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2024-06-potential-caterpillar-fungus-production-bioactive.html
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