Ganoderma lucidum grains are cultured on malt extract agar (Photo courtesy Dr. Obodai).
Across the world, including Ghana, edible wild mushrooms are commonly collected when in season. Mushrooms are low in fat and sugars, a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals and most importantly, are the only vegetable that contains all nine essential amino acids. Edible mushrooms have attracted much interest as functional foods due to their antimutagenic, anti-tumor and anti-viral properties. Food product development must address these changing consumer demands; the development of a convenient mushroom-based functional food is one example. Thus, the goals of this project are to (1) develop methods to cultivate different mushrooms in Ghana and assess nutritional quality, (2) develop a mushroom-based infant functional food and (3) assess the consumer acceptability of the new mushroom product. Four species of mushrooms―two oyster mushrooms, monkey seat, and termite mushrooms―will be cultivated as part of the project, using agricultural residues and tissue culture methods to transform organic waste into food. Product development will initially focus on infant food, guided by the needs of consumers and considering both technical feasibility and profitability.
The U.S. partner will provide technical training to Dr. Obodai and a member of her group, and unemployed women and rural groups will be targeted as the workforce for production of the food products to be developed. The anticipated outcomes of the project include four mushroom species available for use and further product development, a new market-tested mushroom-based product ready for commercialization, and a trained workforce to grow and produce the initial mushroom product. Ultimately, the project researchers hope that expanding children’s diets to include mushroom products will reduce the burden of malnutrition and improve food security in Ghana and throughout Africa.
Summary of Recent Activities
Since the project began in October 2013, the team has been focusing on laboratory work. Starting with a sample of Ganoderma lucidum (lingzhi or reishi mushroom) sourced from the Food Research Institute’s campus, the team prepared tissue cultures. In December, the GLA strain of Ganoderma lucidum was subcultured in malt extract agar.
Future plans include a progress update in January, during which time a decision will be made about sending two PhD students to Ohio State University for training. A trip to the Atiwa Forest Region in eastern Ghana is also being scheduled. During this exercise, strains of Pleurotus tuberregium, Ganoderma lucidum and Termitomyces are to be sampled for future culturing in the lab. The project then will move to cultivating mushrooms on agricultural residues such as sawdust, corn cobs, and rice straw using the plastic-bag method. The project team also expects to make its initial attempts to cultivate the termite mushroom species Termitomyces schimperi using tissue culture methods.