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Abstract

Huitlacoche is the ethnic name applied to the young fruiting bodies (galls) of the fungus Ustilago maydis, which causes common smut of maize (Zea mays L). Biologists and agronomists have historically used U. maydis as a model to study a wide array of genetic, physiological, ecological, and phytopathological phenomena. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, huitlacoche has been used traditionally as human food, being highly regarded as an interesting dish or condiment. The food potential of huitlacoche is described here in terms of its chemical composition, which includes carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, essential amino acids (especially lysine) and fatty acids (linoleate) are present in huitlacoche in considerable levels, adding to its nutritional attributes. The feasibility of growing U. maydis in submerged agitated culture has yielded a variety of fermentation products, including essential amino acids, proteins, vitamins, and flavorings, among others. Recent interest in developing huitlacoche as a cash crop has come from increasing acceptance by the North American public, who prize it as a new delicacy. However, research efforts are still needed to determine the biological factors involved in the establishment of U. maydis as a pathogen on the maize plant. This review deals with the role of huitlacoche as a food source, implicating the biological components that will determine the development of technologies for large scale production.
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... El huitlacoche es una buena fuente de proteínas (10-25% en base a materia seca) (72,100,102). Su contenido de aminoácidos supera los patrones establecidos por la FAO para el consumo en adultos (65). Aunque el huitlacoche es similar a otros hongos que se usan para la alimentación humana, se han encontrado algunas diferencias en su composición de aminoácidos libres comparado con el champiñón (Agaricus bisporus) y el hongo seta (Pleurotus ostreatus) (51). ...
... En diferentes estudios se ha abordado el tema de las condiciones ambientales específicas favorables para el desarrollo del huitlacoche; sin embargo, los resultados no son concluyentes aun cuando la mayoría de los autores coinciden en un rango de temperatura entre 22 a 30°C para la evolución de esta enfermedad (38,98,100). Mientras las temperaturas mayores a 30°C, con un porcentaje intermedio de humedad relativa generan mayor incidencia, en las inferiores a 22°C el ataque de U. maydis es menor, y el desarrollo de las agallas más lento. ...
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En este documento se hace una breve descripción del proceso de coevolución entre el huitlacoche y el maíz considerando los aspectos biológicos y culturales ligados al sistema de cultivo prehispánico conocido como milpa y al conocimiento que de este hongo tenían los pueblos originarios de Mesoamérica. Este ensamblaje entre humanos y organismos permaneció inalterado en el espacio biogeográfico antes mencionado hasta la llegada de los españoles. Se aborda también de forma breve el mestizaje derivado de la conquista y sus aspectos culturales, religiosos y sobre todo gastronómicos, en los cuales el huitlacoche tuvo un papel significativo, lo que le dio vigencia como alimento en el México contemporáneo. Se enfatizan además sus propiedades nutrimentales e importancia económica para los productores, su comercialización en los mercados locales, regionales, nacional y del extranjero, su uso en la elaboración de platillos tradicionales y gourmet, así como su transformación agroindustrial. Sobre la biología del huitlacoche se hace énfasis en su centro de origen el cual está íntimamente unido al de su hospedero natural, el maíz. En esta misma temática se aborda la clasificación taxonómica y se hace una breve descripción de su complejo ciclo biológico, lo cual permite entender con relativa facilidad la interacción biotrófica entre el maíz y el huitlacoche. Esta asociación depende para su evolución de factores ambientales y de la gran diversidad de maíces sobre los cuales se puede desarrollar este hongo, aspectos relevantes que favorecen o no la presencia del patógeno en el hospedero. Se hace también una descripción detallada de la sintomatología característica del hongo durante su proceso de incubación y desarrollo en la planta de maíz. Asimismo, se aborda el avance de las tecnologías más apropiadas para garantizar la producción inducida del huitlacoche, con el propósito de producir el volumen de producto que demandan los diferentes mercados. Se describe de forma resumida el proceso de cosecha y embalaje del huitlacoche para hacerlo llegar a los centros de distribución, incluyendo una reseña de quienes participaron en cada etapa de esta experiencia. Finalmente, se enumeran aspectos que, a nuestro juicio, aún quedan por mejorar o resolver y se hace una reflexión sobre las perspectivas de este nuevo cultivo “hortícola” entre algunos productores de maíz. Se podría aseverar que este cultivo alternativo seguirá vigente en el panorama de la producción agrícola de México en tanto existan descendientes de aquellos que iniciaron la domesticación del huitlacoche, el cual permanecerá indefinidamente como parte de nuestra identidad nacional. Los autores.
... can be used in the production of an acceptable furu as an alternative (Han et al. 2003). Valverde et al. (1995) ...
... Ustilago maydis is a basidiomycete that grows as a parasite on cobs of preharvest maize (Figure 4.11). The large fruiting body is edible, and is locally known as caviar azteca, huitlacoche, or "maize mushroom" (Valverde et al. 1995). In Mexico and other Latin American countries, huitlacoche is highly regarded as an interesting dish or condiment, containing diverse nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. ...
... An important part of the approach was around ensuring the authenticity of the experience. In part, this involved importing uniquely Mexican ingredients including guajillo and ancho chillies (see Miller and Harrisson, 1991), dried epazote (a herb also known as known as Jesuit's tea; see Logan et al., 2004), huitlacoche (corn fungus, AKA Mexican truffle; Valverde et al., 1995), and chapulines (grasshoppers; Cohen and Schuster, 2019;Wade, 2015). Even basic elements such as the flour used to prepare the handmade tortillas and tacos was made of nixtamalized corn, a process for the preparation of maize/grains in which the corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater (Jiménez et al., 2020). ...
... Elements of the dish: Refried bean puree, grilled corn in husks, soaked guajillo chilli chiffonade, huitlacoche (otherwise known as corn fungus or Mexican truffle; Valverde et al., 1995), sweet & hominy corn cake, chile oil, corn husk ash for the stencil (see Fig. 2). This was one of the vegetarian dishes. ...
Article
It would seem fair to say that most people in the West remain more than a little apprehensive about eating insects (entomophagy), and the idea of incorporating insect matter into their diet. Rather that telling people that they should eat insects and/or that it is good for the planet, the approach trialled as part of the México dining concept delivered in London in 2015 by Kitchen Theory was to incorporate insect matter (primarily powdered, but also, on occasion, whole) into a number of the courses served as part of the seven-course meal. Importantly, various psychological techniques were built into the design of the multisensory experience in order to help familiarize those diners who were anxious about the prospect of eating bugs and critters. The consumption of insects has long been a (small) part of Mexican cuisine, and thus developing a creative Mexican dining concept seemed to be an appropriate gastronomic vehicle to introduce people to the pleasures and cultural history of entomophagy.
... The life cycle of U. maydis is dimorphic consisting of a yeast-like and a hyphal state with the infectious form being obligate biotrophic (Banuett, 1992). Infected plants develop huge tumors, which are a traditional delicacy in Mexico known as Huitlacoche (Valverde et al., 1995). These socalled galls can develop on leaves, fruits, stems and flowers ( Figure 1A-D) due to massive teliospore formation inside. ...
Thesis
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Microbial rhodopsins are abundant membrane proteins often capable of ion transport and are found in all three domains of life. Thus, many fungi, especially phyto-associated or phyto-pathogenic ones, contain these green-light-sensing photoreceptors. Proteins that perceive other wavelengths are often well characterized in terms of their impact on fungal biology whereas little is known about the function of fungal rhodopsins. In this work, five fungal rhodopsins, UmOps1 and UmOps2 from the corn smut Ustilago maydis as well as ApOps1, ApOps2 and ApOps3 from the black yeast Aureobasidium pullulans, were characterized electrophysiologically using mammalian expression systems and the patch-clamp technique to explore their ion transport properties. The latter three were modified using a membrane trafficking cassette, termed “2.0” that consists of the lucy rho motif, two Kir2.1 Golgi apparatus trafficking signals and a Kir2.1 endoplasmic reticulum export signal, what resulted in better plasma membrane localization. Rhodopsin mutants were created to identify amino acid residues that are key players in the ion transport process. Current enhancement in the presence of weak organic acids, that was already described before for the fungal rhodopsin CarO from Fusarium fujikuroi (García-Martínez et al., 2015; Adam et al., 2018), was investigated for the U. maydis rhodopsins as well as for ApOps2 by supplementing acetate in the patch-clamp electrolyte solutions. All five rhodopsins were found to be proton pumps unidirectionally transporting protons out of the cytosol upon green-light exposure with every rhodopsin exhibiting special features or unique characteristics in terms of the photocurrents. To name just a few, UmOps1, for example, showed a striking pH-dependency with massive enhancement of pump currents in the presence of extracellular acidic pH. Moreover, especially ApOps2 and ApOps3 showed very high current densities, however, the ones of ApOps3 were impaired when exchanging intracellular sodium to cesium. Concerning the mutations, it was found, that the electron releasing group in UmOps1 seems to be involved in the striking pH effect and that the mutation of the proton donor site resulted in almost unfunctional proteins. Moreover, a conserved arginine inside ApOps2 was mutated to turn the proton pump into a channel. Regarding the effect of weak organic acids, acetate was able to induce enhanced pump currents in UmOps1 and ApOps2, but not in UmOps2. Due to the capability of current production upon light illumination, microbial rhodopsins are used in the research field of optogenetics that aims to control neuronal activity by light. ApOps2 was used to test its functionality in differentiated NG108-15 cells addressing the question whether it is a promising candidate that can be used as an optogenetic tool. Indeed, this rhodopsin could be functionally expressed in this experimental system. Furthermore, microscopic studies were done to elucidate the localization of selected rhodopsins in fungal cells. Therefore, conventional (confocal laser scanning or structured illumination microscopy) as well as novel super-resolution techniques (expansion or correlated light and electron microscopy) were used. This was done on U. maydis sporidia, the yeast-like form of this fungus, via eGFP-tagged UmOps1 or UmOps2 expressing strains. Moreover, CarO-eYFP expressing F. fujikuroi was imaged microscopically to confirm the plasma membrane and tonoplast localization (García-Martínez et al., 2015) with the help of counterstaining experiments. UmOps1 was found to reside in the plasma membrane, UmOps2 localized to the tonoplast and CarO was indeed found in both of these localizations. This work gains further insight into rhodopsin functions and paves the way for further research in terms of the biological role of rhodopsins in fungal life cycles.
... Huitlacoche amplifies the protein content of maize, with estimates ranging from about 3-10% for traditional maize, to 8.8-19.3% for maize fungus (Valverde et al., 1995, Valverde et al., 2015Valdez-Morales et al., 2010). This augmentation of nutritional content enhances muscle growth and maintenance of a healthy immune system, owed primarily to the most abundant amino acid in huitlacoche, lysine (Battillo, 2018). ...
Article
In the two papers that comprise this thesis, I will discuss the dietary complexes of two separate Southwestern archaeological sites excavated in the 20th century through the medium of coprolite analysis. The fusion of microscopy techniques in this project expands the capability of observation and identification of microremains and their use in reconstructing the dietary habits of past peoples. I intend to highlight the value of integrating three separate methods of microscopy for the identification of diet and any practices for using that information to narrow down a coprologically unstudied site location for samples of lost provenience. Additionally, this project aims to construct dietary habits from both sites to continue the discussion of Southwestern paleonutrition and cultivation methods. Chapter three discusses the Dyck Cliff Dwelling (DCD), occupied between A.D. 1000-1300. This site was the focus of a decade-long field excavation, but this is the first dietary reconstruction based on microscopic and macroscopic remains in coprolites. This evidence revealed a broad nutritional diet of agricultural produce augmented by wild food resources. Consumption and horticultural practices are indicated through these pieces of information. In the fourth chapter, I examine the Arid West Cave (AWC), a site discussed by Wibowo, et al. (2021) in an article about the human gut and ancient microbial genomes. A place of origin for this cave is never given; two potential areas are mentioned as candidates, but true identification of origin is never researched. Therefore, the second paper in this thesis aims to identify the origin for these samples, at least in general terms, in addition to the analysis of the dietary remains. Historical literature and comparative dietary material with other Southwestern sites narrowed down the potential location of these unidentified samples. In addition to illustrating technical methods, this thesis expands upon the discussion of paleonutrition in the Southwest and the variety of cultivation practices and recipes that develop through the chronological history of Puebloan peoples. Advisor: Phil Geib
... With over 31,500 species described species, this group is the second largest of the Fungal Kingdom and constitutes, together with the Ascomycota, the subkingdom Dikarya (often referred to as the 'higher fungi'). Well-known basidiomycetes are species in the genus Puccinia that cause rust in many economically important crops [55], Ustilago maydis that causes smut on maize [56], Malassezia yeasts that are mainly associated with certain skin conditions in humans [57], as well as the opportunistic human yeast Cryptococcus neoformans that usually infects the lungs or the central nervous system but sometimes also other parts of the body [58]. All Basidiomycota are filamentous fungi composed of hyphae (except for basidiomycota-yeast), and reproduce sexually via the formation of specialized club-shaped end cells called basidia that produce meiospores called basidiospores [59]. ...
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Fungi are unicellular or multicellular thick-walled eukaryotic organisms that are not capable of photosynthesis and are placed in a biological kingdom of their own. They are ubiquitous in our environment, and include tens of thousands, perhaps even millions of species of yeasts, rusts, smuts, mildews, molds, and mushrooms. Together with bacteria, fungi are the principal decomposers of plant materials such as cellulose and lignin, fulfilling vital ecological functions in all terrestrial habitats. Some species of fungi are also of major importance in households (for instance, as foods such as edible mushrooms), medicine (for instance, as producers of antibiotics such as penicillin), and industry (for instance, for making bread, wine, and cheese). About 300 fungal species cause infections in humans, varying from relatively harmless skin complaints such as pityriasis versicolor to potentially life-threatening systemic syndromes such as candidiasis. Fortunately, a broad armamentarium of efficacious antifungal drugs has been developed, ranging from topical nystatin to parenteral amphotericin B. In addition, most, if not all traditional medical systems throughout the world have identified a large assortment of plant-based remedies for treating these infections. This also holds true for the multi-ethnic and multicultural Republic of Suriname (South America), where plant-based traditional medicines are abundantly used, either alone or in conjunction with allopathic medications. This monograph extensively addresses nine plants that are traditionally used for treating fungal infections in Suriname, and explains the phytochemical and pharmacological rationales for these applications. These sections are preceded by some general observations about the Fungal Kingdom; a few words about the characteristics of fungi, their taxonomy, and their significance to humans; information about fungal infections as well as the available forms of treatment; and some details about Suriname including health aspects, the health care structure, and the main fungal infections in the country. The monograph is concluded with an evaluation of the status of the Surinamese herbal antifungal substances and the previsions of developing them into mainstream antifungal formulations.
... In wheat straw, the initial lignin content was halved after 12 weeks of growth of Pleurotus spp., and consequently the digestibility of the remaining cellulose was increased significantly for ruminants (Moyson and Verachtert, 1991).The large fruiting bodies of the exotic basidiomycete, Ustilago maydis are collected and consumed as mushrooms. They are especially popular in Latin America where they are known as 11 Huitlacoche 11 or 11 Caviar Aztecau (Valverde et al., 1995). ...
... Fungi have been cultivated and utilized for the production of food, food ingredients (e.g., citric acid, vinegar), feed, enzymes, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, and more for generations. The edible portions of fungal biomass have popularly been consumed in the form of mushrooms or as a component of foodstuffs, for instance in huitlacoche, a delicacy comprised of Ustilago maydis fungus galls and also in Roquefort and Camembert cheeses [1,2]. Edible mushrooms are foraged and/or cultivated worldwide and are considered to be an important component of healthy human diets [3]. ...
Article
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The rapid growth of human civilizations has led to imminent pressures to develop new food products with increased nutritional characteristics and decreased environmental footprints. Filamentous fungi, a class of microorganisms that have been utilized in a wide variety of foods for thousands of years, have recently garnered widespread attention in research communities and commercial ventures seeking to explore new and innovative applications in a diverse array of food products including, but not limited to, their more established applications as alternative proteins. Technological advances in the cultivation and processing of filamentous fungi have created new frontiers in the control of textures, flavors, and nutritional properties of fungi-based foods. This review highlights technological advances in the production of fungi-based foods from cultivation to product manufacturing, presents the current state of the art in fungi-based food products, and offers thoughts on their future trajectories. Emphasis is given to circular bioprocessing concepts for the sustainable utilization of agricultural and food processing byproducts.
... The addition of Huitlacoche mushroom (Ustilago maydis) is the young edible galls growing in corn plants due to the infection caused by the basidiomycete fungus. It is consumed in Mexico and is key to the national cuisine as ingredient and main dish; it is also a functional ingredient in the formulation of food products (Juárez-Montiel et al., 2011). Valverde et al. (1995 and Beas et al. (2011) reported that huitlacoche is a good source of protein (10%-25% dry base, db), containing high levels of lysine and dietary fiber (54%-64% db) as well as essential fatty acids, In this sense, some of the main parameters to determine the quality of pasta are cooking properties, textural characteristics, and nutritio ...
Article
Fettuccine‐type pasta was made from wheat semolina mixed with 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 % of huitlacoche mushroom powder (HMUP), and the effect on quality, physicochemical, antioxidant capacity, and color properties was studied. Proximate analysis studies on the pasta showed that a higher content of HMUP in the mixture increases lipids, fiber, and ash levels, without affecting protein content. Cooking time in the pasta decreased with increasing HMUP. Quality parameters as cooking loss, cooking weight gained, solubility index, and swelling were influenced by increased HMUP in the pasta. Luminosity (L*) values decreased drastically as HMUP increased. Cooking also influenced color parameters (ΔL* and ΔC*), Antioxidant capacity (DPPH, ABTS, FRAP) and total phenols increased with higher HMUP concentrations in raw and cooked pasta. These results suggest that HMUP could be incorporated into semolina flour to prepare fettuccine‐type pasta, conferring healthy characteristics due to the preservation of antioxidant capacity after cooking.
... A delicious pest: While known as a plant pathogen, U. maydis is not harmful to humans. Rather, it has a long history of safe use as a delicacy ("Huitlacoche") in Mexico and Central America dating back to the heydays of the Aztec empire (20) and Switzerland has placed Ustilago maydis on its official list of edible mushrooms (Verordnung über Speisepilze; https://www.fedlex.admin.ch/eli/oc/2002/145/de; last accessed 02/10/2021). ...
Article
Basidiomycetes fungi of the family Ustilaginaceae are mainly known as plant pathogens causing smut disease on crops and grasses. However, they are also natural producers of value-added substances like glycolipids, organic acids, polyols, and harbor secretory enzymes with promising hydrolytic activities. These attributes recently evoked increasing interest in their biotechnological exploitation. The corn smut fungus Ustilago maydis is the best characterized member of the Ustilaginaceae. After decades of research in the fields of genetics and plant pathology, a broad method portfolio and detailed knowledge on its biology and biochemistry are available. As a consequence, U. maydis has developed into a versatile model organism not only for fundamental research but also for applied biotechnology. Novel genetic, synthetic biology, and process development approaches have been implemented to engineer yields and product specificity as well as for the expansion of the repertoire of produced substances. Furthermore, research on U. maydis also substantially promoted the interest in other members of the Ustilaginaceae, for which the available tools can be adapted. Here, we review the latest developments in applied research on Ustilaginaceae towards their establishment as future biotech cell factories.
Article
This study is concerned with the growth of Ustilago zeae in synthetic media containing various sources of carbon and nitrogen. Four monosporial cultures of U. zeae, all derived from a single promycelium, were studied comparatively. Glucose, levulose, mannose, sucrose, maltose and trehalose were the best of 20 carbon sources tested. D-arabinose, rhamnose, sorbose, melibiose and starch were not utilized. U. zeae is able to utilize nitrate, ammonium, or amino nitrogen. Good growth was obtained in 19 of 23 amino acids tested as sole sources of nitrogen, aspartic acid, asparagine, and serine proving to be superior to other amino acids. Little or no growth was obtained with cystine, cysteine hydrochloride, tyrosine, or hydroxyproline. No qualitative differences in utilization of any of these substances were noted among the four strains of U. zeae studied.