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There are many living ethnological stories on mushrooms dating back to ancient times, which have been interlaced with the supernatural in literature and art, used for human longevity, and as essential food sources. Working together in mushroom science for many past ages, investigating their chemistry, their bioactive and food preserving properties, made us somehow unintentionally feel great love and appreciation for the astonishing realm of edible mushrooms. As scientists and researchers in the modern era, we needed the matching representative for our mushroom love to transfuse the positive vibes and desire for absolute knowledge about these food diamonds: a book with the current accomplishments in myco-science of edible fungi. All the chapters summarized in this book result from enormous dedication and work, over the last few decades, of the chapter authors and book editors, who were crossing known scientific frontiers and dictating modern trends in myco-research.

The book is organized into 11 chapters with discussions of new insights into mushroom research. Chapter 1 discusses the differences between poisonous and edible mushrooms, as sometimes it is not easy to distinguish them without proper identification of the individual collected mushroom. In Chapter 2, the nutritional properties of wild-growing edible fungi, which are consumed in different parts of the world, are explored. Recent findings have presented edible fungi as a very good source of unsaturated fatty acids, to which many health beneficial properties are attributed, a field in which Chapter 3 reviews recent findings. Phenolic compounds are a diverse group of natural compounds that can be found in edible fungi. Many studies dealing with the exploration of phenolic compounds and their health-improving properties are discussed in Chapter 4. Edible mushrooms and their isolated compounds show promising antimicrobial, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anticancer potentials in vitro and in vivo, with different mechanisms of action included, and these are continuously showing novel pharmacological properties, as discussed in Chapter 5. In Chapter 6, various protein structures, lectins, and β-glucans that are found in edible mushrooms are reviewed, as they play a pivotal role in many biological effects. The characterization of terpenes and steroids from various mushroom sources and their biological activity and chemical structures are presented in Chapter 7. Meanwhile, Chapter 8 discusses the long history of mushroom cultivation but points out that reliable techniques for cultivation of fruiting bodies are known only for a limited number of species. In recent years, mushroom production has increased to a new level, especially in countries with growing economies, such as China, Poland, Hungary, and India. Chapter 9 reviews the cultural use of mushrooms in different regions of the world. Moreover, as described in Chapter 10, edible fungi do not serve only as nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals, the uses of their extracts and compounds are described in food products as convenient natural alternatives for synthetic food additives, food fortifiers, and food enhancers. Chapter 11 reviews the most recent supplements available on the market based on mushrooms and official drugs derived from edible fungi.

Dejan Stojković

Lillian Barros

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