Background: Antibiotic agents have been in widespread and largely effective therapeutic use since their discovery in the 20th century. However, the emergence of multi-drug resistant pathogens now presents an increasing global challenge to both human and veterinary medicine. It is now widely acknowledged that there is a need to develop novel antimicrobial agents to minimize the threat of further antimicrobial resistance. With this in mind, a study was undertaken to examine the antimicrobial properties of aqueous extracts of 'exotic' Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms on a range of environmental and clinically important microorganisms.
Method: Several batches of Shiitake and oyster mushrooms were purchased fresh from a local supermarket and underwent aqueous extraction of potential antimicrobial components. After reconstitution, aqueous extracts were tested qualitatively against a panel of 29 bacterial and 10 fungal pathogens, for the demonstration of microbial inhibition.
Results: Our data quantitatively showed that Shiitake mushroom extract had extensive antimicrobial activity against 85% of the organisms it was tested on, including 50% of the yeast and mould species in the trial. This compared favourably with the results from both the Positive control (Ciprofloxacin) and Oyster mushroom, in terms of the number of species inhibited by the activity of the metabolite(s) inherent to the Shiitake mushroom.
Conclusions: This small scale study shows the potential antimicrobial effects of Shitake extracts, however further work to isolate and identify the active compound(s) now requires to be undertaken. Once these have been identified, suitable pharmaceutical delivery systems should be explored to allow concentrated extracts to be prepared and delivered optimally, rather than crude ingestion of raw material, which could promote further bacterial resistance.