Agaricus blazei Murrill is an edible mushroom found throughout the Americas. It has important pharmacological effects such as anti-tumor and anti-hypertension, and its potential in the prevention of carcinogenesis processes is of particular interest. An important condition for the development of commercial crops is the development of A. cultivars . blazei having improved properties such as productivity in carpophores, disease resistance, and demonstrated human health benefits. On the basis of various scientific studies, health claims are advanced for this edible mushroom, but some studies also point to toxicological risks.
In Japan, A. blazei is cultivated using methods inspired by the cultivation of the mushroom ( Agaricus bisporus ). Both fungi are saprophites secondary decomposers of forest litter. The agricultural residues used for their cultivation thus become valued products. They open up new economic opportunities with beneficial consequences for the environment.
However, there is little information available on the development of A. blazei cultivars and crop optimization. The varieties used for the cultivation of A. blazei are derived from a small number of Brazilian wild strains with subtropical habitat, and a very low genetic diversity is observed in these strains. Moreover, its life cycle is not very well known. A recent publication and our own preliminary work tend to synonymize different species of almond – like Agaricus including A. blazei strains grown under a common name: Agaricus subrufescens .
These rare Agarics are probably present on various continents and specimens have been collected recently in Spain, France and Mexico. They seem to be less dependent on high temperatures for their cultivation than A. blazei grown today. In this context, a fundamental genetics research on A. subrufescens and an uncontroversial clarification of the species complex become objectively important.
If A. subrufescens from Europe and elsewhere are indisputably recognized as being the same species as the commercial A. blazei strains , the extensive literature on pharmacological effects may be used to support claims about the beneficial effects of human health of its new strains, and especially we can hope to improve their properties and the production process through the use of this new biodiversity and crosses. Naturally the toxicological risks will have to be verified with these new strains and specific pharmacological activities will have to be verified and explained.