Introduction: Button Mushroom (Agaricus spp.) is the most popular mushroom variety grown and consumed the world over. In India, its production earlier was limited to the winter season, but with technology development, these are produced almost throughout the year in small, medium and large farms, adopting different levels of technology. The species being grown in most farms is the white button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) belonging to Class Basidiomycetes and Family Agaricaceae.
Origin: Cultivation of button mushrooms (A.bisporus) started in the sixteenth century. However, on a commercial scale, the cultivation was initiated in Europe around 17th Century. Many farms for production of button mushrooms were established and this variety still dominates the world production and consumption. India, with its diverse agroclimate conditions and abundance of agricultural wastes, has been producing mushrooms, mainly for the domestic market, for more than four decades. Commercial production picked up in the nineties and several hi-tech export oriented farms were set up with foreign technology collaborations. But major share of mushroom production is still on small farms.
Economic Importance: Mushrooms are highly proteinaceous and are used as food. The white button mushroom is sold as fresh mushroom or is canned and made into soups, sauces and other food products. Protein in mushrooms have 60-70 % digestibility and contains all the essential amino acids. It has medicinal properties also. A high amount of retene is present in the button mushroom which is supposed to have an antagonistic effect on some forms of tumours.