Principal Investigator

Prof Bennie Viljoen

Prof Bennie Viljoen
+27 51 401 2621

Prof Viljoen and his team’s mushroom research has various aspects

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


From left: Prof Bennie Viljoen, Christie van der Berg and Christopher Rothman (PhD student) Photo: Anja Aucamp

Gourmet mushrooms

Grown on agricultural waste under controlled environmental conditions to achieve the tastiest edible mushrooms possible; this group of mushrooms is comprised of the King, Pink, Golden, Grey, Blue and Brown Oysters.
Other than the research results obtained, this part is mainly governed by the postgraduate students running it as a business with the intention to share in the profit from excess mushrooms because they lack research bursaries. The mushrooms are sold to restaurants and food markets at weekends.
Mushroom House Bloem

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 the treatment of various ailments. Nowadays, macrofungi are known to be a source of bioactive compounds of medicinal value. These include 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. All of these properties can be enjoyed by capsulation of liquid concentrates or dried powdered mushrooms, as we recently confirmed by trial efforts which are defined as mushroom nutriceuticals.
Their research focuses on six different medicinal genera, each with specific medicinal attributes.

Cordyceps militaris

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

Maitake mushroom

Maitake mushroom: most dominant property exhibited by this specific mushroom is the reduction of blood pressure as well as cholesterol. Other medicinal properties include anticancer, antidiabetic and immunomodulating while it may also improve the health of HIV patients

Turkey Tail mushroom

Turkey Tail mushroom: known for its activity against various tumours and viruses as well as its antioxidant properties

Shiitake mushroom

Shiitake mushroom: antioxidant properties and are capable of lowering 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 mushroom: medicinal properties such as anticholesterol, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antitumour and immunomodulatory properties

Lion’s Mane mushroom

Lion’s Mane mushroom: contains nerve growth factors (NGF) and may be applied as a possible treatment of Alzheimer’s disease as this compound seems to have the ability to re-grow and rebuild myelin by stimulating neurons

Reishi mushrooms

Reishi mushroom: considered to be the mushrooms with the most medicinal properties due to their enhancing health effects such as treatment of cancer, as well as increasing longevity, resistance and recovery from diseases


This application phenome to break down trees growing as encroaching plants.This research is potentially very valuable for the agricultural sector in the 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 a low digestibility and limited availability of nutrients into high-quality animal fodder. By carefully selecting the right combination of fungus species to ferment agro-wastes, a whole host of advantages could become inherently part of the substrate. Mushrooms could become a biotechnological tool used to ‘inject’ the substrate that will be fed to animals with nutrition and/or medicine as the need and situation dictates.



Christopher Rothman

PhD student
The biotechnological application of mushrooms species to
degrade lignocellulose biomass for ruminant digestion

Moira Badenhorst

Moira Badenhorst

MSc Student
Evaluation of Cordyceps militaris of medicinal applications. 

Ryno Swart

Ryno Swart

MSc Student
Title of project


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


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

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