Dec. 31, 2004 The oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) is an edible fungus which is grown on an industrial scale and the consumption of which would appear to reduce cholesterol levels and has been attributed anticancer properties. Nevertheless, it has yet to be discovered which genes in the mushroom are responsible for such beneficial properties for human health. In order to make a breakthrough in this research, Sang-Kyu Park centred his PhD thesis, defended at the Public University of Navarre, concentrating on the study of the genetic map of this type of fungus.
Irregular genetic distribution
The Genetic and Microbiological Research Group at the Public University of Navarre has built a genetic linkage map of the oyster mushroom based on RAPD (Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA) and RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms) markers, phenotype characteristics and cloned genes.
Concretely, Sang-Kyu Park isolated and studied 100 genes, of a total of 10,000 that the oyster mushroom is estimated to contain, i.e. just 1% of the total. He studied their pattern of expression throughout development and their location on the fungus genome. In his investigation, this Korean biochemist did not find which genes reduce cholesterol or which have anticancer properties, but he did come across other results which he describes as “very interesting”.
He found that some genes participate in the metabolism and others in the cell structure of the oyster mushroom. There are genes that only express themselves in the mature fungus, while others express themselves both in the spores and in the mycelium, etc. Also, it was shown that the distribution of genes is not uniform along the P. ostreatus genome, given that the XI chromosome, the smallest in size, is the one containing the greatest number of genes.
The oyster mushroom has a high nutritional value for its high level of vitamins and proteins and its non-saturated fatty acids. But, apart from using it as a food, the oyster mushroom is produced industrially for applications such as the manufacture of paper pulp, cosmetics or in the pharmaceutical industry.
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