Project information sheet

1.Publishable summary

1.1 Summary description of project context and objectives (max 4000)


The white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) leads mushroom crop worldwide, in such a way that 1091 thousand tonnes of these mushrooms produced in Europe in 2012, 60% was sold fresh and the remainder was canned.


EU SME mushroom growers are struggling to maintain benefit margins due to the globalization of agricultural markets, competition with countries like China (45% of world production), the increasing cost of raw materials/utilities and losses caused by pests and diseases. For the control of those losses chemical pesticides and fungicides are the most common used solution.

From 21st October 2009 the Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council has established a framework for community action to reduce pesticide use to a minimum and to minimize its negative impact on the environment and human health. This regulation makes implementation of the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) obligatory:

•    Measures for prevention and/or suppression of harmful organisms

 •    Tools for monitoring

 •    Threshold values as basis for decision making

 •    Non-chemical methods to be preferred

 •    Target-specificity and minimization of side effects

 •    Reduction of use to necessary levels

 •    Application of anti-resistance strategies

 •    Records, monitoring, documentation and check of success

 The ban of traditional pesticides by the Directive 2009/128/EC makes necessary to develop treatment and prevention alternatives to keep the benefits/margins that makes the mushroom growing activity economically sustainable.


The overall objective of BioMush is to provide practical solution to help the growers to adapt to a stringent legislation (Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 and Directive 2009/128/EC) aiming at reducing the pesticide use at the same time it reduces losses by pest and diseases, increasing production. Biomush is an IPM solution to manage diseases spread and pest population using several control options mainly biological, physical and other non-chemical methods.


BioMush promotes an integrated approach for pest and diseases control in mushroom cultivation that works on four areas:

Early detection tool for mushroom fungal diseases, to facilitate their control before visual symptoms appear.

 Treatment of pests and diseases by biopesticides, mainly bioinsecticides based on natural enemies and bio fungicides based on vegetable extracts.

 -   Crop specific guidelines for Integrated Pest Management in mushroom crops in Europe, including the developed tools.

 -   Training to professional users and distributors on the existing IPM principles.


 BioMush project is directed primarily at mushroom growers across Europe but also to member states to facilitate taking actions for the implementation of directive 2009/128/EC. As secondary market, we consider other potential fields where Biomush could have a direct or indirect application apart from mushrooms farms. These can be biopesticides market for other agriculture cultivations such as salad vegetables, soft fruits, orchard fruits (including citrus), vineyards, row crop such as corn and vegetables, cotton and tobacco. Another one colud be the field of sensors for enzymes detection in agro-food area such as casing soil companies, agro-product suppliers and R&D entities.


 Biomush project looks for some scientific, technological and integrated objectives.

 Scientific objectives:

 To find biomarkers of fungal pathogens causing the main mushroom diseases.

  1. Selection of the Vegetable extracts with no negative effect on Agaricus bisporus growth.
  2. Selection of the Biological agent for flies control.

 Technological objectives:

      A device for early detection of fungal pathogens.

  1. Development of a bioinsecticide solution for the control of pests (sciarids and phorids) in mushroom crops.

 3.  Development of a biofungicide for the control of fungal diseases (Verticillium, Dactylium, Mycogone). Formulation, application timing, and rates.

 Integrated objective:

 During the first fifteen months of Biomush project the following tasks and achivements have been done.


 1. Determination of fungal biomarkers from extracellular compounds and test in real situation.

 2.  Sensor development for selected biomarkers.

 3. Development of the biofungicide

 4. Development of the bioinsecticide.


 1.  Several literature reviews have led to a selection of potential biomarkers.  A study of different matrices to identify where biomarkers occurred has concluded the casing soil is the main source. Test of the production of potential biomarkers in real situation revealed that no genus-specific biomarker was detected and lead to follow the approach of analysing profile-specific biomarker. Their use for sensor detection was checked and the limit of detection determined.

2.  Sensing strategy was identified in terms of sensor technology. Main sensor architecture has been defined taking into account different options of recognition/transduction system. Different sensor alternatives have been built and test for proof of concept, resulting the selection of the best option from the response and selectivity point of view. With this information, sensors for detection of several extra-cellular enzymes have been built, determining their dynamic range and limit of detection.

 3.  A literature study on biofungicide based on vegetal extracts led to the selection of a group 28 compounds for the effective treatment of Agaricus bisporus in different formulations. In vitro trials were performed with the most important fungal pathogens: Dactylium dendroides, Verticillium fungicola, Mycogone perniciosa and Trichoderma aggressivum, allowing the screening of the most promising ones due to their potential against the diseases and the Agaricus bisporus mycelium inhibition absence.  The selected ones are submitted to in vivo trials to test their effectiveness in real mushroom growing rooms with controlled infection. Results are still under evaluation.

 4.  As an alternative to chemicals for mushroom pests (Sciarids and Phorids) treatment, Biomush has study the use of biological control agent mainly natural enemies. Based on bibliography and availability of regular commercial products four predators were selected for the trials, following their results by trapping of adults of the first generation coming from the infested compost or/and casing soil in each box. Three infestation times for Sciarids and three application times for biological control agents were tested with moderate efficiency.


BioMush project offers an integrated solution to help European mushroom growers to implement IPM as part of their growing activities both to comply with the upcoming legislation and to reduce crop losses and production costs by efficiently management of pests and diseases. This solution is composed of:

A biosensing device for early detection of fungal disease, consisting on a sensor that will detect the main fungal pathogens in Europe (Verticillium, Dactilium and Mycogone) 6 to 10 days before visual symptoms appear and a reading unit.

- A novel formulation and application protocol of biofungicide based on vegetable extracts with biological activity against competitive fungus, able to control a 70% of fungal diseases with a maximum reduction on Agaricus mycelium of 5%.

-   A biopesticide solution for the biological treatment of pests and diseases originated by flies (sciarids and phorids) in mushroom cultivation.

 -   Specific guidelines for Integrated Pest Management in mushroom crops in Europe, including the use of the biofungicide, biopesticide and biosensor device.

 -   A training plan for professional users and distributors for the implementation of the IPM program and BioMush technology in their crops.


 SME-AGs (ANICC, SBGU, FTREV and RECOMSA) will benefit from providing tools and guidance to their SME members for an efficient implementation of an IPM program in their crops. Considering the consortium Associations represent 55% of the total growers, with BioMush project they will provide their associates with an increase in production of 66M, thus contributing to the development of the European mushroom production. Royalties will be collected from the global sales through licencing of BioMush technology which will be reinvested for the Association’s activities. Royalties for the licencing of the Biosensor and biological treatment products will be charged to non-consortium SMEs based on the demand uncovered by consortium SMEs (LINCIS, EST and AGRON).

 ME acting as OTH(LINCIS, EST and AGRON). The project is going to provide SME´s opportunities to strengthen their current market position, increasing shares in their respective markets, entering new markets, and also increasing their competitiveness with added values derived from the acquired new knowledge. They will benefit from manufacturing and selling the BIOMUSH technology to the SME-AG members in Italy, France and Poland for an agreed period. SMEs LINCIS, EST and AGRON will also be able to exploit the technology in the countries where they are located.


 Mushroom cultivation has a social character in Europe since farms are normally family driven and the production also involves a series of related activities, such as spawn producers, composting plants, sellers, canning industries and compost recycling plants.

 BioMush will increase European mushroom production by 4.8% as a consequence of a reduction by 48% of the yield losses caused by fungal diseases, what means more benefits for farm and an additional injection of resources for rural areas. This contribute to keep population in these areas.

 In addition, mushroom productions in Europe employs 50,000 employees mainly associated to rural areas, where the industry can favour the creation of new SMEs and the insertion of women in the market (growers, in canning industries, etc.). The project will increase the sustainability of the rural sector and agriculture in general contributing to maintain 2400 jobs and the inclusion of women in the labour market.

 Biomush project by encouraging natural pest control mechanisms, facilitates the implementation of IPM techniques in mushroom to comply with the upcoming legislation, and hopefully will reduce the pesticides use per farm by at least 70% (3,472 Tons in Europe after 5 years). In that way less harmful pesticides reach the human food chain, increasing the safety for the consumer.

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