Thursday, October 29, 2020

Phallus indusiatus morphology, cultivation, edibility and medicinal importance

In the family Phallaceae or stinkhorns, Phallus indusiatus, commonly called bamboo mushrooms, bamboo pith, long net stinkhorn, crinoline stinkhorn, or veiled lady, is a fungus. It has a cosmopolitan range in tropical regions. It is found in South Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Australia, where it grows in rich soil and well-rotted woody content in woodlands and gardens.  The fungus's fruit body is distinguished by a stalk-shaped conical to bell-shaped cap and a delicate "skirt" lacy, or indusium, hanging from under the cap and almost touching the ground.  First scientifically described by the French botanist Étienne Pierre Ventenat in 1798, the species was sometimes referred to as a separate genus Dictyophora along with other indusium-like Phallus species.  

Phallus indusiatus

Mature fruit bodies with a conical to bell-shaped cap that is 1.5–4 cm (0.6–1.6 in) wide are up to 25 cm (10 in) long.  A greenish-brown spore-containing slime covers the cap, attracting flies and other insects that consume and spread the spores. In stir-frys and chicken soups, an edible mushroom featured as an ingredient in Chinese haute cuisine is used.  The mushroom is rich in protein, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber and is cultivated commercially and widely sold in Asian markets.  There are also different bioactive compounds in the mushroom, and it has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.  In Chinese medicine, Phallus indusiatus has a known history of use dating back to the 7th century AD and Nigerian folklore features.

Phallus indusiatus

Phallus indusiatus fruiting body structure-  Immature P. indusiatus fruit bodies are initially enclosed in an egg-shaped subterranean structure in a peridium.  The "egg" varies in color from whitish to buff to reddish-brown, measures up to 6 cm (2.4 in) in diameter, and typically has a thick mycelial cord attached to the bottom.  As the mushroom matures, the strain caused by the enlargement of the internal structures causes the peridium to tear, and the fruit body quickly emerges from the "egg."  The mature mushroom is up to 25 cm tall and girded with a net-like structure called the indusium (or less formally a "skirt") hanging from the conical to a bell-like cap.  The net openings of the indusium can be polygonal or round. Well-developed specimens have an indusium that reaches the volva and flares out slightly before collapsing on the stalk.  The cap is 1.5–4 cm (0.6–1.6 in) broad, and it's reticulated (pitted and ridged). The surface is filled with a coating of greenish-brown and foul-smelling slime, the gleba, which is initially partially obscure.  The top of the cap has a small hole. The stalk is 7–25 cm long and 1,5–3 cm (0,6–1,2 in) thick.  The hollow stalk is white, often curved, and spongy in width across its length.  The ruptured peridium remains at the base of the stalk as a loose vulva.  Fruit bodies grow throughout the night and need 10–15 hours to develop entirely after emerging from the peridium.  They are short-lived, generally lasting no more than a few days. At that point, the slime was usually removed by insects, leaving the pale off-white, bare-cap surface exposed.


Phallus indusiatus egg

Like all Phallus species, P. indusiatus is saprobic — deriving from breaking down wood and organic plant matter.  Fruit bodies grow alone or in groups in disturbed soil and among wood chips.  In Asia, it grows among bamboo trees and usually fruits after heavy rains.   Like P. indusiatus, stinkhorn breeding methods vary from other agaric mushrooms, which violently eject their spores. Instead, Stinkhorns produce a sticky spore mass with a sharp, sickly-sweet odor of carrion. The cloying stink of mature fruit bodies — detectable from a considerable distance — is attractive to some insects.  The species reported visiting the fungus include stingless Trigona bees and Drosophilidae and Muscidae fly. Insects aid spore dispersal by eating the gleba and depositing excrement containing intact spores to germinate elsewhere. Although the indusium's role is not understood, it may visually attract insects not otherwise attracted by the odor and serve as a ladder for crawling insects reaching the gleba.

Phallus indusiatus eggs

Phallus indusiatus has been cultivated on a commercial scale in China since 1979.  In the Fujian Province of China — known for its booming mushroom industry, cultivates 45  edible fungi species — P. Indusiatus is grown in Fuan, Jianou, and Ningde.  Developments in cultivation have made the fungus cheaper and more widely available; in 1998, around 1,100 metric tonnes (1,100 long tonnes; 1,200 short tonnes) were grown in China.  Hong Kong's price for one kilogram of dried mushrooms was about US$ 770 in 1982, but it had fallen to US$ 100–200 by 1988.  Further developments led to a further decline to US$ 10–20 by 2000.  The fungus is grown on agricultural waste — bamboo-trash sawdust covered by a thin layer of non-sterilized soil.  The optimum temperature for mushroom spawn and fruit bodies' growth is about 24 ° C (75 ° F), with a relative humidity of 90–95%.  Other substrates that can cultivate fungi include bamboo leaves and small stems, soya pods or stems, corn stems, and willow leaves.


A nutritional analysis of P. indusiatus (based in Nigeria) showed that the fungus egg stage contains 33.6 g of crude protein, 1.66 g of fat, and 3.98 g of carbohydrate (per 100 g of fungus, dry weight).  The egg stage also consisted of 20.9 g of dietary fiber and 88.76 percent of the moisture content.  The high protein and fiber levels (comparable to those found in meat and vegetables, respectively) indicate that the P. indusiatus egg is a healthy food source. The concentration of many mineral elements, including potassium, sodium, and iron, was also favorable compared to fruit and vegetables. However, the fungus' mineral composition depends on the corresponding concentration in the soil in which it grows.


Chemical Compounds-  Phallus indusiatus was ascribed to medicinal properties from the Chinese Tang Dynasty when mentioned in the pharmacopeia.  The fungus has been used to treat many inflammatory, stomach, and neural diseases. Traditionally, Miao people in Southern China continue to use it for a variety of conditions, including injuries and pains, coughing, dysentery, enteritis, leukemia, and fatigue, and clinically recommended care for laryngitis, leukorrhea, fever, and oliguria (low urine output), diarrhea, hypertension, cough, hyperlipidemia, and anticancer therapy.


Fruits of the fungus contain biologically active polysaccharides. β-D-glucan labeled T-5-N and prepared from alkaline extracts[61] has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Its chemical structure is a linear chain backbone made up mostly of D-mannopyranosyl-linked D-manopyrosyl residues, with traces of 1-manopyrosyl-linked D-manopyrosyl residues.  Polysaccharide has tumor-suppressing activity against subcutaneously implanted sarcoma 180 (transplantable, n).


Another chemical of interest found in P. indusiatus is hydroxymethylfurfural, which has gained attention as an inhibitor of tyrosinase.  Tyrosinase catalyzes the initial steps of melanogenesis in mammals. It is responsible for undesirable browning reactions in damaged fruits during post-harvest handling and processing, and its inhibitors are of interest to the medical, cosmetic, and food industries.  Hydroxymethylfurfural, which exists naturally in many foods, is not associated with significant health risks. P. indusiatus also contains special ribonuclease (an enzyme that cuts RNA into smaller components) with many biochemical features distinguishing it from other known ribonuclease mushrooms.


A 2001 publication in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms attempted to develop its effectiveness as an aphrodisiac. In the trial involving 16 women, six self-reported mild orgasm experiences smelled the fruit body, and the other 10, who received lower doses, self-reported increased heart rate.  Both twenty men examined found the smell to be displeasing. The study used fruit bodies found in Hawaii, not the edible variety grown in China. Criticism was received from the study.  A way to achieve instant orgasms would be expected to attract a lot of publicity, and many attempts to replicate the effect, but none succeeded. No major science journal has published the research, and there are no reviews in which the findings have been replicated. 

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