Mushroom is a general term used
mainly for the fruiting body of macro fungi (Ascomycota and Basidiomycota)
and represents only a short reproductive stage in their lifecycle 9. Mushroom
can be epigeous, large enough to be seen with the naked eyes and can be picked
by hand 3. From the taxonomic point of view, mainly Basidiomycetes but also some species of Ascomycetes are mushroom forming fungi. Total mushrooms on the
earth are estimated to be 140,000 species in which 10% (14,000 approximately)
are known. Out of 14,000 known species, 2000 are safe for human consumption and
about 650 of these possess medicinal properties 14. Lycoperdon perlatum, popularly known as the common puffball, warted
puffball, gem-studded puffball and devil’s snuff-box, is a species of puffball
fungus in the family Agaricaceae.
Mushrooms have become attractive
as a functional food and as a source for the development of drugs and
nutraceuticals (a food or part of a food that provides medical or health
benefits) responsible with their antioxidant, antitumor and antimicrobial properties
10. Some of them are potent nutriceuticals (compounds that have medicinal and
nutritional attributes and are consumed as medicines in the form of capsules or
tablets but not as food) 15. The secondary metabolites of mushrooms are
chemically diverse and possess a wide spectrum of biological activities, which
are explored in traditional medicines and in new targets of molecular biology 14.
In developing countries like India mushrooms are boon for progress in the field
of food, medicine and unemployment. In twentieth century, mushrooms are well
known to people all over the Asian countries as an important bio-source of
novel secondary metabolites.
Nutritional analysis indicates that the puffballs are a
good source of protein, carbohydrates, fats and several micronutrients 12.
The predominant fatty acids in the puffball are linoleic acid (37% of the total
fatty acids), oleic acid (24%), palmitic acid (14.5%) and stearic acid (6.4%) 13.
of the anti-oxidant is ?-glucan. ?- Glucan is a polysaccharide (i.e. a chain of
glucose molecules) that is found in such foods as oats, barley, mushrooms and
yeasts. Also, it is lesser extent in rye and wheat. It is extremely difficult
to extract and purify. However, Oat bran contains about 7 percent beta glucan
and is inexpensive. It is too weak to use as a supplement. Non-cellulosic
?-glucans are now recognized as potent immunological activators and some are
used clinically in China and Japan 17.