A Novel Technique for Rejuvenation of Degenerated Caterpillar Medicinal Mushroom, Cordyceps militaris

Cordyceps militaris has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many years, but its frequent degeneration during continuous maintenance in culture can lead to substantial commercial losses.

Chinese researchers from Anhui Agricultural University have tried to rejuvenate degenerated C. militaris using MAT technology, and  obtained a rejuvenated C militaris strain with well-developed fruiting bodies and more bioactive compounds. 

In this study, a degenerated strain of C. militaris was obtained by subculturing a wild-type strain through 10 successive subcultures. The relative abundance of the 2 mating types seems to be out of balance in the degenerated strain. By cross-mating 4 single-ascospore isolates (2 for MAT 1-1 and 2 for MAT 1-2) from the degenerated strain, they successed to restore fruiting body production to wild-type levels. The rejuvenated strain not only produced well-developed fruiting bodies but also accumulated more cordycepin and adenosine than either the original wild-type strain or the degenerated strain. These new characteristics remained stable after 4 successive transfers, which indicates that the method used to rejuvenate the degenerated strain in this study is an effective approach.

Most of the economically and ecologically important clavicipitaceous fungi possess either MAT1-1 or MAT1-2, suggesting that the method described in this study is a simple and convenient method to rejuvenate degenerated strains and could be useful for the industrial-scale production of C. militaris and other clavicipitaceous genera.

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