Nationalization and Globalization Trends in the Wild Mushroom Commerce of Italy with Emphasis on Porcini (Boletus edulis and Allied Species)

Professional Consulting Mycologist Loc. Farné 39—I-40042 Lizzano in Belvedere Italy
Economic Botany (Impact Factor: 1.2). 11/2008; 62(3):307-322. DOI: 10.1007/s12231-008-9037-4


Nationalization and Globalization Trends in the Wild Mushroom Commerce of Italy with Emphasis on Porcini (
Boletus edulis
and Allied Species). This paper presents an historical overview of wild mushroom commerce in Italy, with a focus on recent trends in the production of porcini (Boletus edulis and closely allied species). Over the past century, two major trends—nationalization and globalization—have been apparent in the wild mushroom commerce of Italy. First, a simplified national mushroom menu has emerged through processes of governmental regulation and culinary fashion, but it has come at the expense of differing, localized mushroom traditions which may suffer under the European Union’s free trade principles. Second, Italy has emerged as a focal point of a global market for a small number of mushroom species—particular porcini. While the name porcini has become synonymous with Italian cuisine, and in spite of a vibrant tradition of recreational mushroom collecting in Italy, most of the porcini commercially available in Italy or exported by Italy are no longer of Italian origin. Porcini and other mushrooms now flow into Italy from all over the world—especially from China and eastern Europe—and are then often exported as “Italian porcini.” This globalization of the wild mushroom trade, while offering significant income to rural producers and processors around the globe, has other effects as well, for example, a kind of national branding as “Italian” of globally-produced products, of which porcini is one, that is in direct opposition to some of the European Union’s rules for regional denominations.

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    • "Three species could be identified based on corroboration of ML-supported reciprocal monophyly and GMYC clustering, and these corresponded to lineages previously reported in phylogenetic analyses (Dentinger et al., 2010; Feng et al., 2012; Sitta & Floriani, 2008), but none of which were formally named or described. Review of recent treatments of Chinese boletes also did not provide names for these taxa, which have been treated as a handful of species that occur in Europe and North America (Zang, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Accurate diagnosis of the components of our food and a standard lexicon for clear communication is essential for regulating global food trade and identifying food frauds. Reliable identification of wild collected foods can be particularly difficult, especially when they originate in under-documented regions or belong to poorly known groups such as Fungi. Porcini, one of the most widely traded wild edible mushrooms in the world, are large and conspicuous and they are used as a food both on their own and in processed food products. China is a major exporter of porcini, most of it ending up in Europe. We used DNA-sequencing to identify three species of mushroom contained within a commercial packet of dried Chinese porcini purchased in London. Surprisingly, all three have never been formally described by science and required new scientific names. This demonstrates the ubiquity of unknown fungal diversity even in widely traded commercial food products from one of the most charismatic and least overlooked groups of mushrooms. Our rapid analysis and description makes it possible to reliably identify these species, allowing their harvest to be monitored and their presence tracked in the food chain.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · PeerJ
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    • "(¼B. aestivalis (Paulet) Fr.), B. pinophilus Pilá t & Dermek, and B. aereus Bull., also named porcini, are mushrooms with high commercial value in Europe, North America, and China (Singer 1986; Hall et al. 1998; Sitta and Floriani 2008; A ´ gueda et al. 2008a; Dentinger et al. 2010; Feng et al. 2012). The wholesale price of fresh porcini mushrooms in the US was around US $60/kg in 2009 and reached a price of US $200/kg (Dentinger et al. 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: Boletus edulis is a well-known ectomycorrhizal mushroom. Although cultivation has been widely attempted, no artificial fruiting has been achieved owing to difficulties associated with mycorrhizal synthesis and acclimatization in fields. We collected fifteen B. edulis basidiomata samples from locations in Japan and identified them microscopically and by phylogenetic analysis of their nuclear ribosomal internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions. Pure culture isolates of B. edulis were established efficiently on malt extract agar medium, and one isolate, EN-63, was inoculated to axenic Pinus densiflora seedlings in vitro. Brownish ectomycorrhizal tips were observed on the pine lateral roots within four months of inoculation. Ten pine seedlings that formed ectomycorrhizae were acclimatized under laboratory and greenhouse conditions. At four months after transplant, mycorrhizal colonization by B. edulis was observed on newly grown root tips under laboratory conditions, but no B. edulis ectomycorrhiza survived under greenhouse conditions. These results suggest that B. edulis ectomycorrhizae synthesized in vitro with P. densiflora requires additional steps for acclimatization to greenhouse conditions.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Mycoscience
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    • "Porcini are widely collected and consumed in their main production areas in North America [1], Europe [2] and eastern Asia. The Asian populations are primarily located in China. "
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    ABSTRACT: The wild gourmet mushroom Boletus edulis and its close allies are of significant ecological and economic importance. They are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere, but despite their ubiquity there are still many unresolved issues with regard to the taxonomy, systematics and biogeography of this group of mushrooms. Most phylogenetic studies of Boletus so far have characterized samples from North America and Europe and little information is available on samples from other areas, including the ecologically and geographically diverse regions of China. Here we analyzed DNA sequence variation in three gene markers from samples of these mushrooms from across China and compared our findings with those from other representative regions. Our results revealed fifteen novel phylogenetic species (about one-third of the known species) and a newly identified lineage represented by Boletus sp. HKAS71346 from tropical Asia. The phylogenetic analyses support eastern Asia as the center of diversity for the porcini sensu stricto clade. Within this clade, B. edulis is the only known holarctic species. The majority of the other phylogenetic species are geographically restricted in their distributions. Furthermore, molecular dating and geological evidence suggest that this group of mushrooms originated during the Eocene in eastern Asia, followed by dispersal to and subsequent speciation in other parts of Asia, Europe, and the Americas from the middle Miocene through the early Pliocene. In contrast to the ancient dispersal of porcini in the strict sense in the Northern Hemisphere, the occurrence of B. reticulatus and B. edulis sensu lato in the Southern Hemisphere was probably due to recent human-mediated introductions.
    Full-text · Article · May 2012 · PLoS ONE
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