Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan--Achievements-Innovative techniques

Innovative techniques

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A Breakthrough in Mass Production of North Cordyceps
Fruiting bodies of North Cordyceps successfully produced in rice grains.
Fruiting bodies of North Cordyceps successfully produced in rice grains.
An optimal light spectrum promoted the formation and coloration of primordia of North Cordyceps. (Left: special light treatment;Right: fluorescent light treatment)
An optimal light spectrum promoted the formation and coloration of primordia of North Cordyceps. (Left: special light treatment;Right: fluorescent light treatment)

    A research team at Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) has successfully developed an innovative technology to mass produce North Cordyceps, which is rich in cordycepin and other health-promoting ingredients, for direct consumption or as raw materials to manufacture value-added health-promoting products.

    Cordyceps militaris (an entomopathogenic fungus), also known as North Cordyceps, is one of type species of the genus Cordyceps belonging to the class Ascomycetes. It is native to Northeast China and has been long used as a nourishing tonic there. According to a considerable number of scientific literatures, the spectrum of functional activities of C. militaris is far larger than Cordyceps sinensis—another well-known but hard-to-get species. Therefore, C. militaris has been used as the substitute for C. sinensis in tonic food and also marketed as a medicine in North China.

    C. militaris possesses many kinds of health-promoting components. Among them, cordycepin (or 3'-deoxyadenosine) is most valuable as a nucleoside antibiotic. In addition, it also contains mannitol, ergosterol, polysaccharides, etc. It is becoming one of the important medicinal mushrooms in Taiwan.

    TARI's R&D efforts in mass production of C. militaris entails establishment of viability assay and optimum preservation conditions to increase fungal viability, optimization of liquid culture medium, growing temperature and humidity, and modulation protocol, and treatments of different light spectra to increase the primordia formation and to accelerate color change in primordia. An integration of the aforesaid techniques can produce C. militaris  in 60 days with the rate of good-quality fruiting bodies exceeding 95%, which is a significant feat.