The genus Pleurotus is a cosmopolitan group of fungi which comprises ca. 30 species and subspecific taxa. The genus Pleurotus also represents the second main group of cultivated edible mushrooms in the world. The Pleurotus species are efficient colonizers and bioconverters of lignocellulosic agro‐industrial residues into palatable human food with medicinal properties. Besides Pleurotus species demonstrates significant nutritional and their bioactive compounds (mainly polysaccharides) possess antibacterial, antibiotic, antitumor, hypocholesterolemic and immunomodulation properties. Extracts of the Mediterranean culinary‐medicinal Oyster mushrooms P. eryngii var. eryngii, P. eryngii var. ferulae, P. eryngii var. elaeoselini, and P. nebrodensis were tested for their in vitro growth inhibitory activity against a group of bacterial reference strains of medical relevance: Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 25923, S. epidermidis RP62A, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 15442, and Escherichia coli ATCC10536. All of the Pleurotus species analyzed inhibited the tested microorganisms in varying degrees. The cold‐water extracts of P. eryngii var. ferulae and P. nebrodensis can affect the tumor phenotype of human colon cancer HCT116 cells. The in vitro antitumor effects indicate that some Pleurotus species can be considered as possible sources for new alternative therapeutic agents for cancer treatment. Studies carried out on a new productive strains of "cardoncello" mushroom, P. eryngii, a prized Italian culinary‐medicinal mushroom, demonstrated that this food is very low in saturated fat, dietary fiber and, a good source of vitamins. The vitamin B12 content makes P. eryngii suitable as a possible alternative food for vegetarians or for those with diets lacking in foods of animal origin.
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