Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC)

SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant
AY 2022-2023

Revolutionizing Agriculture

The Science and Art of Mushroom Farming with CLSU'S Dr. Renato G. Reyes

Revolutionizing Agriculture: The Science and Art of Mushroom Farming with CLSU'S Dr. Renato G. Reyes Dr. Renato G. Reyes, Professor VI and the Vice President for Academic Affairs of Central Luzon State University, Philippines, received the SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair Grant in AY 2022-2023 for his immense contributions to the field of Mycology. Dr. Reyes specializes in mushroom science and biotechnology, mushroom nutraceuticals, fungal ecology and taxonomy, and fungal plant pathogens. Most notably, he has authored the manual on the Philippine National Standard for Natural Ingredients titled "Standard for Edible Fungi and Code of Hygienic Practice for Mushrooms and the Code on Good Cultivation Practices for Mushrooms." Because of his extensive work in the field, Dr. Reyes is the leading mushroomologist in the country.

Working in the academe was not in Dr. Reyes' plan after he graduated from college two years before the EDSA Revolution. As a fresh graduate in the BS Agriculture program of CLSU, his thin stature became a source of insecurity to face students despite his outstanding academic credentials as a Cum Laude graduate. It was his research adviser and professor who encouraged him to be more confident and to enter the teaching profession. This nurturing and unconditional support enabled Dr. Reyes to make his mark in his current field. Before his current post as VP for Academic Affairs, he also served as the Director of the International Affairs Office and the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at CLSU.

Revolutionizing Agriculture: The Science and Art of Mushroom Farming with CLSU'S Dr. Renato G. Reyes

For Dr. Reyes, teaching made him a better version of himself. The academe's culture of excellence, coupled with patience and service, guided him in transforming the lives of the youth into responsible citizens who play major roles in building a habitable community. Above all else, he wants to impart patrimony and a love for science to the youth. Dr. Reyes' continuing advocacy is on putting science into the art of mushroom farming and introducing innovations in the field. For mushroom science to be sustainable and relevant, it should always be research-oriented and people-centered. Dr. Reyes coined the term mushroom pharming in 2007 when he and his team developed innovative technologies for medicinal mushroom cultivation in the Philippines.

Revolutionizing Agriculture: The Science and Art of Mushroom Farming with CLSU'S Dr. Renato G. Reyes

Revolutionizing Agriculture: The Science and Art of Mushroom Farming with CLSU'S Dr. Renato G. ReyesDr. Reyes received his PhD in Forest Science at Tokyo University of Agriculture in Japan and after conducting his post-doctoral research fellowships at Michigan State University, USA; Takasaki University of Health and Welfare, Japan; and the German Research Center for Biotechnology (GBF) and the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany, he focused on harnessing the economic potential of Philippine wild edible mushrooms, particularly the underutilized mushroom genetic resources. This scientific intervention made Philippine mushrooms known to the international scientific community. Dr. Reyes conceptualized and advanced an innovative approach for mushroom cultivation via mushroom pharming in the Philippines, which includes cultivating medicinal mushrooms for nutrient and climate change-sensitive agriculture. He also holds the intellectual property rights on the production of mushroom-based beta glucan using coconut water as a culture medium. Because of his efforts, the government, through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCHRD), awarded CLSU as a Tuklas Lunas Development Center to focus its research on mushroom drug discovery.

As part of his SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair grant, Dr. Reyes introduced wild edible mushrooms through a public lecture on 6 March 2023 at his home institution. Discussing "Recent advances in the domestication and mykopharming of wild edible mushrooms in the Philippines for the bio-functional food industry," Dr. Reyes shared about the zero rice waste technology, which utilizes rice straw as the main substrate for cultivating edible mushrooms. Farmers commonly burn rice straws, and Dr. Reyes' study proposed a solution to this harmful practice. He talked about Volvariella volvacea, a popular mushroom in the Philippines that grows well in rice straw, banana leaves, water lily, and other cellulosic farm residues.

Revolutionizing Agriculture: The Science and Art of Mushroom Farming with CLSU'S Dr. Renato G. Reyes

On receiving awards such as the 2021 Outstanding Filipino JSPS Fellow, 2019 Crop Science Society of the Philippines, Inc. Achievement Award in Teaching, and his recent SEARCA Regional Professorial Chair recognition, Dr. Reyes considers it all as a celebration, a motivation, and a commitment that should always serve as a reminder that a scientist exists with a purpose for the good of humanity and the environment.

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