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Trametes versicolor — also known as Coriolus versicolor and Polyporus versicolor — is an extremely common polypore mushroom which can be found throughout the world. Versicolor means ‘of several colours’ and it is true that this mushroom is found in a wide variety of different colours. T. versicolor is commonly called turkey tail because of its resemblance to the tail of the wild turkey. T. versicolor is recognized as a medicinal mushroom in Chinese medicine under the name yun zhi (simplified Chinese: 云芝, traditional Chinese: 雲芝). In China and Japan T. versicolor is used as in immunoadjuvant therapy for cancer.[1]

 

 

Description and ecology

The top surface of the cap shows typical concentric zones of different colours. Flesh 1–3 mm thick, leathery texture. Cap with rust-brown or darker brown, sometimes blackish zones, Older specimens, such as the one pictured at right, can have zones with green algae growing on them, thus appearing green. Commonly grows in tiled layers. Cap flat, up to 8 x 5 x 0.5-1 centimeters, often triangular or round, with zones of fine hairs. Pore surface whitish to light brown, pores round and with age twisted and labyrinthine. 2-5 pores per millimeter

The turkey tail has bioremediation potential, according to mycologist Paul Stamets. T. versicolor biodegrades a variety of pollutants. It is eaten by the caterpillars of the fungus moth Nemaxera betulinella and by the maggots of the Platypezid fly Polyporivora picta.[2]

Research

Polysaccharide-K (PSK), is a protein-bound polysaccharide isolated from Trametes versicolor, which is used as an immune system boosting agent in the treatment of cancer in some European countries as well as China and Japan. In Japan, PSK is approved as an adjuvant for cancer therapy[1] and is covered by government health insurance. Otherwise, there is no regulatory approval of this agent for any clinical use in other developed countries.

PSK displays anticancer activity from preliminary laboratory assessments in vitro,[3] in vivo[4] and in human clinical trials.[5] Preliminary research has shown that the PSK might reduce mutagen-induced, radiation-induced, and spontaneously-induced development of experimental cancer cell preparations.[6] PSK has shown to be beneficial as an adjuvant in the treatment of gastric, esophageal, colorectal, breast and lung cancers.[7] Preliminary human clinical trials indicate PSK might reduce cancer recurrence when used as an adjuvant[5][8] and other basic research has demonstrated the mushroom can inhibit certain human cancer cell lines in vitro.[9][10][11] Further in vitro studies have shown that a nutraceutical blend (MC-S) of PSK, lentinan and other fungal extracts might also inhibit cancer cell proliferation under laboratory conditions.[12]

The MD Anderson has reported that it is a “promising candidate for chemoprevention due to the multiple effects on the malignant process, limited side effects and safety of daily oral doses for extended periods of time.”[13] At present, however, there are no approved drugs or scientifically verified anti-disease activities resulting from this mushroom.

Written on February 12th, 2012 , Botany, Mycology Tags:

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