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2025 Speakers

Utility of controlled environment agriculture in the production of medicinal fungi

Jacqueline Nguyen, Speaker at Plant Biology Conferences
University of Guelph, Canada
Title : Utility of controlled environment agriculture in the production of medicinal fungi

Abstract:

Fungal-derived drugs have revolutionized the landscape of pharmaceuticals. There is an increasing interest in medicinal fungi as nutraceutical products but as demand rises, supply chain issues have emerged. Medicinal and culinary varieties of fungi are often grown in hoop houses or indoor growing facilities with limited environment controls. This can lead to biological and chemical contamination, including environmental pollutants. Growth conditions vary between producers, and there is limited information available on the effect of environment controls on the physicochemical properties of fungi. Other issues including quality control, contamination, and efficacy of nutraceuticals in general have become more prevalent due to unregulated cultivation, postharvest processing, and wild harvesting. The lack of oversight in the nutraceutical market can lead to serious health risks for consumers. To address these issues, we propose the cultivation of medicinal fungal species under controlled environment conditions. Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) medicinal mushroom production allows for control over all key environmental growth parameters (e.g., CO2, humidity, temperature, etc.). Advancements in this biotechnology approach will ensure conditions are optimal and homogenized at all stages of growth. Standardizing cultivation protocols can improve overall quality and uniformity, while reducing contamination. Conditions can be altered to express desired traits from crops such as their size, shape, bioactive content, and growth rate. Current literature regarding the use of CEA is focused on plant production; there is a paucity of data for fungi cultivation. The limited variety of cultivated mushrooms has also contributed to a lack of transferable knowledge across different fungal species presenting challenges in progressing the cultivation of medicinal fungi. The state and future of CEA medicinal mushroom production will be discussed along with research underway at the University of Guelph.

Audience Takeaway:

  • The presentation will describe current fungi cultivation practices and improvements that can be made through refining environmental conditions to exhibit the ideal attributes of the fungal fruiting body. I will examine controlled environment agriculture and its potential to advance medicinal fungi production.
  • This can benefit industry professionals in the field of controlled environment agriculture (CEA) as I will explore enhancing crop production, sustainability, and in turn, profitability.
  • CEA has largely been employed for plant production but there is insufficient research regarding fungi cultivation in controlled environments. This novel research has the potential to expand the horizons of controlled environment agriculture, pushing its capabilities beyond previous limits.
  • It introduces academics, researchers, and industry professionals to the promising realm of medicinal mushroom cultivation within CEA. Faculty could use this knowledge to demonstrate the advances in CEA biotechnology and incorporate aspects of the presentation into their own research.

Biography:

Jacqueline is an MSc candidate at the Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility (CESRF) at the University of Guelph. She joined CESRF as an undergraduate researcher in 2018 with a focus on bush bean plant architecture to maximize space use efficiency in controlled environment systems. She then graduated in 2020 with her BSc in Environmental Sciences from the University of Guelph. Jacqueline returned to CESRF for her MSc in Environmental Sciences under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Graham. Her current research aims to understand the relationship between environment controls and the physicochemical responses of medicinal fungi species.

 

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