Ethnomycology, bioprospection, and uses of mushrooms in Costa Rica




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Rojas Alvarado, Carlos Alonso
Arroyo Trejos, Ignacio
Doss, Robin G.

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Habits relating to the use of mushrooms tend to classify human populations into either “mycophilic” or “mycophobic.” This dialectical approach to mushroom use cannot be used in Costa Rica because the systematic documentation of mycological resources has not been constructed on the basis of such theoretical arguments. Based on the evidence gathered from human populations in Costa Rica, it could be said that both indigenous and non-indigenous groups are at best “myco-indifferent” in the sense that they use mushrooms as a food resource, but their use is neither widespread nor culturally relevant. There are about 152 species of edible mushrooms in Costa Rica, from which about 10 are excellent culinary choices, 16 have been reported to have medicinal properties and no threatened species have been determined. The conservation of habitats where these species occur is vital to their population health and, in general, the Costa Rican people seem to be aware of this fact. The deep insertion of the sustainable development goals agenda into Costa Rica’s research and development investment plans has opened up many possibilities for the use of fungi in human-related activities. In the last decade, such planning has generated a series of studies of potential use, mainly within the Costa Rican academia, which have helped to consolidate the idea that mycological resources could be relevant for Costa Rica’s development. The current attitude towards the future of bioprospecting approaches and the use of mushrooms in Costa Rica is positive. Although mycology is a relatively recent discipline of academic activity in this country, the integration of fungi in initiatives with human impact has been slowly but steadily increasing over the last decades and can be expected to continue in a similar manner.


Palabras clave

ethnomycology, fungi, central america, bioprospection, mushrooms, Costa Rica

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