Medicinal Fungi


    In Context

    • Recently, an analytical study of medicinal fungi carried out by researchers from the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai (IMSc), shows that some chemicals they secrete may find use as novel drugs.


    • They used a database, MeFSAT (Medicinal Fungi Secondary Metabolites And Therapeutics), which compiles information on 184 medicinal fungi, including mushrooms.                                    
    • Medicinal fungi belong to two taxonomic divisions namely, basidiomycota and ascomycota. 
      • Mushrooms belong to the basidiomycota division. 
      • An example is Agaricus bisporus, the button mushroom, which can be consumed. 
    • Fungi belonging to the ascomycota division are generally not mushrooms. 
      • Among these are Isaria cicadae and Shiraia bambusicola which are used in traditional Chinese medicine.     



    • Secondary metabolites are chemical compounds that fungi produce when they are stressed. 
    • These are not strictly essential and hence the name ‘secondary’. 
    • They enhance the fungus’ ability to survive. 
    • The work has been published in the preprint server BioRXiv. 
    • Cordycepin, a secondary metabolite produced by Cordyceps species of fungus, is known to have anti-tumour properties.