Chinese Traditional Medicine meets modern science: "Mushroom of Immortality" has now been genome mapped.
Used in Chinese medicine for centuries, the Lingzhi "mushroom of immortality" or Ganoderma lucidum, has "antitumour, antihypertensive, antiviral and immunomodulatory," properties, notes theNature Communicationsstudy led by Shilin Chen of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College. Some 400 medically-active compounds are made by the mushroom, the study authors note.
"As one of the most famous traditional Chinese medicines,G. lucidum has a long track record of safe use, and many pharmaceutical compounds have been found in this medicinal macrofungus" says the study. "However, the understanding of the basic biology of G. lucidum is still very limited."
So, they decided to map its genes, producing a first genome of the mushroom.
Overall, the Lingzhi (or reishi) mushroom possesses more than 12,600 genes packed into 13 chromosomes, the researchers report. Several hundred involve medically-useful compounds called Triterpenoids that may be effective in treating tumors. The genome reveals steps used to create them, the study authors find, useful for labs.
The mushrooms live on rotting trees, and many of its other genes are involved in decaying wood, making their associated proteins and enzymes potentially useful for biofuels applications.
"The genome sequence will make it possible to realize the full potential of G. lucidum as a source of pharmacologically active compounds and industrial enzymes," the study concludes.