In this study the potential of new imaging techniques such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization (MALDI) profiling mass spectrometry (“MALDI Profiling”) and Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopic imaging was evaluated to study morphological and molecular patterns of the potential medicinal fungus Hericium coralloides. For interpretation, the MALDI profiling, FTIR imaging and MRI results were correlated with histological information gained from Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Light Microscopy (LM). Additionally we tested several evaluation processes and optimized the methodology for use of complex FTIR images to monitor molecular patterns. It is demonstrated that the combination of these spectroscopic methods enables to gain a more distinct picture concerning morphology and distribution of active ingredients. We were able to obtain high quality FTIR imaging and MALDI-profiling results and to distinguish different tissue types with their chemical ingredients. Beside this, we have created a 3-D reconstruction of a mature Hericium basidioma, based on the MRI dataset: analyses allowed, for the first time, a realistic approximation of the “evolutionary effectiveness” of this bizarrely formed basidioma type, concerning the investment of sterile tissue and its reproductive output (production of basidiospores).
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