Food Biotechnology research has various aspects, including the following:

  • Growth and nutritional properties of edible exotic mushrooms
  • Medicinal mushrooms for improved human health
  • Mushrooms applied as animal fodder

Gourmet mushrooms

Grown on agricultural waste under controlled environmental conditions to achieve the tastiest edible mushrooms possible – this group of mushrooms comprises the king, pink, golden, grey, blue, and brown oysters. Besides the research results obtained, this part is mainly governed by the postgraduate students who are running it as a business to share in the profit from excess mushrooms, because they lack research bursaries. The mushrooms are sold to restaurants and food markets on weekends.

King oyster

King oyster mushroom

pink oyster mushroom

Pink oyster mushroom

Golden oyster mushroom

Golden oyster mushroom

brown oyster

Brown oyster mushroom

Medicinal mushrooms

Throughout history, mushrooms have been used as a natural alternative for various ailments. Macrofungi are known to be a source of bioactive compounds of medicinal value. These include the prevention or alleviation of heart disease, inhibition of platelet aggregation, reduction of blood glucose levels, reduction of blood cholesterol, and the prevention or alleviation of infections caused by bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic pathogens. These properties can be enjoyed by the capsulation of liquid concentrates or dried powdered mushrooms, as we have recently confirmed through trial efforts defined as mushroom nutriceuticals. The research focuses on several medicinal genera, each with specific medicinal attributes.

Cordyceps militaris

Cordyceps militaris possesses anti-fatigue, immuno-modulating, anti-inflammatory, and antitumour properties. It has also been indicated for the enhancement of insulin resistance and insulin secretion. Another attractive property is the improvement of pro-sexual activity, treating low egg production in women and low sperm production in men.

Maitake mushroom

The maitake mushroom's most dominant property is blood pressure and cholesterol reduction. Other medicinal properties include anticancer, antidiabetic, and immunomodulating, while it may also improve the health of HIV patients.

Turkey Tail mushroom

Turkey tail mushrooms are known for their activity against various tumours and viruses and for their antioxidant properties.

Shiitake mushroom

Shiitake mushrooms have antioxidant properties and can lower blood serum cholesterol (BSC). The mushroom produces a water-soluble polysaccharide – lentinan – considered to be responsible for anticancer, antimicrobial, and antitumour properties.

grey oyster

Grey oyster mushrooms have medicinal properties such as anticholesterol, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumour, and immunomodulatory properties.

Lion’s Mane mushroom

The lion's mane mushroom contains nerve growth factors (NGF). It may be applied as a possible treatment for Alzheimer's disease, as this compound seems able to regrow and rebuild myelin by stimulating neurons.

Reishi mushrooms

Reishi mushrooms have the most medicinal properties due to their health-enhancing effects, such as cancer treatment and increasing longevity, resistance, and disease recovery.


This is an application phenome to break down trees growing as encroaching plants. This research is potentially valuable to the agricultural sector in areas where Acacia is an encroaching problem. With this process, waste products are upgraded to a usable state.

It is possible to convert woody biomass with low digestibility and limited availability of nutrients into high-quality animal fodder. By carefully selecting the right combination of fungus species to ferment agro-waste, a whole host of advantages could become inherently part of the substrate. Mushrooms could become a biotechnological tool to 'inject' the substrate that will be fed to animals through nutrition or medicine as the need and situation dictate.

Principal investigator


Elfrieda van den Berg (Marketing Manager)
T: +27 51 401 2531

Dilahlwane Mohono (Faculty Officer)
T: +27 58 718 5284

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