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The Conservation of Mushroom in Ancient Egypt through the Present
Ancient Egyptians believed that the mushrooms were plants of immortality and called them “a gift from the God Osiris”. Egyptian pharaohs proclaimed mushrooms to be food reserved only for royalty; common people were not even allowed to touch them. Conservation of nature by ancient Egyptians was recorded on walls of temples and papyrus sheets. Egypt considered as the cradle of mycology when ancient Egyptians produced a number of hieroglyphic depictions of psychedelic mushrooms on temple’s walls and through hieroglyphic texts throughout the country. The majority of temples with countless pillars, e.g. Philae temple, are like huge mushrooms and both ancient Egyptian crowns, white and triple, were inspired from the primordia of Psilocybe cubensis. Many old dynastic ear studs and other structures obviously resembled mushrooms. The Hearst (1550 B.C.) prescriptions 89-92 deal with the treatment of skin abrasions or contusions. They recommend the application of moldy bread crumbs, salt, and rags. Here one may assume an ancient observation on the possibility of molds being helpful in preventing skin infections in connection with abrasions. Arab society for fungal conservation designed a series of mycological expeditions to underpin the achievement of specific fungal conservation aims. In 2013, the expeditions were operated for the first time in Egypt in which various habitats were screened in Nile Delta. Macrobasidiomycete specimens were collected from Nile Delta many times since February 2013. Order Agaricales came first among all surveyed orders by recording 80% of occurrence and Agaricaceae (30%) among all families of Agaricales. The Ganodermataceae was the most represented family in the Polyporales. The most common species of Ganoderma were G. resinaceum Boud., G. lucidum (Curtis) P. Karst. and G. mbrekobenum Otto et al. on Causarina, palm and citrus trees. Ganoderma species were identified by morphological and molecular means. Dried basidiomata and pure culture of saprobic species were deposited in the Fungarium of Arab Society for Fungal Conservation, Suez Canal University, Egypt. Although basic research in Egypt is still needed to advance knowledge of fungi to the level of other kingdoms and the multitude of well�known species all clearly illustrate that Egyptian macrofungi are far from data deficient. Given the enormous potential of fungi to provide novel pharmaceuticals, chemicals and new technologies, the biotechnology industry has a vast, largely untapped resource for discovery of new chemicals and novel processes. It is important to protect the agroecosystems and fungi to ensure that rights of indigenous people to an appropriate share in resulting benefits are recognized. Egyptian mycologists are responsible to deliver this message to public and politicians. Egyptian conservation legislation is strongly focused on protecting animals, plants and fungi are still neglected. To solve such problems in Egypt collaboration between mycologists, amateur fungal groups, Arab Society for Fungal Conservation, Egyptian protectorates and Egyptian Environmental Affair Agency. The Mohamed bin Zayed Fund is thanked for support in producing this work.