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Earth Day- 2009

Mushroom Diversity

As a part of Earth Day celeberation a gallery for mushroom diversity has been opened in the Botany Section, Govt. Museum, Egmore, Chennai on 7-5-2009. Dr.V.Kaviyarasan from Centre for Advanced studies in Botany, University of Madras has explained the importance of conservation of biodiversity in general and mushroom diversity in particular. The photographs were accompanied with the detailed descriptions and were illuminated well in the gallery. Edible mushrooms (Figs. 1 & 2) and poisonous mushrooms (Figs. 3-5) were exhibited separately in the gallery and were given by the speaker to the museum. The speaker explained the role of mushrooms in conservation of biosphere as follows. Biosphere of the Earth supports 30 million different types of organisms (Plants, animals, insects, fungi, bacteria and actinomycetes) which help in the maintenance of the environment. The largest group of organisms on the Earth next to the insects are fungi. Number of fungi identified are to the tune of 80,600 approximately. However, it is estimated, that 15 million fungi exist in the biosphere. Fungi play a major role in soil nutrition by degrading both organic and inorganic wastes and mineralizing them. By mineralization the nutrients are released from complex materials making them available to the plant. When they degrade the lignocellulosic wastes derived from agriculture /forestry release oligosaccharides which in turn support free living nitrogen fixing bacteria and enrich the agro wastes into nitrogen - rich biofertilizer. By employing these organisms, municipal wastes can be converted into biofertilizers by the process of composting. Due to deforestation and application of chemical fertilizers, these microorganisms are dwindling in numbers and the soil is impoverished. For this reason, it is estimated that nearly 16000 hectares of land in India is rendered less productive. Replenishing the soil nutrition by applying biofertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers is the need of the hour. Besides conserving microflora, soil nutrition and the environment of the Earth, this is also economical. Hence by employing potential fungi and bacteria the unwanted pollutant organic wastes can be converted into biofertilizer. Give room for mushrooms which inturn help in conservation of the Earth biosphere and make the world ecofriendly for better living.

In this connection Dr.R.Sridhar, I.A.S. Secretary, Department of Museum, Govt of Tamilnadu who has presided over the function and released a book entitled 'Man and Mushrooms' authored by Dr.V.Kaviyarasan. Role of mushroom in soil nutrition, plant growth promotion, and their edibility and poisonous nature were well explained by the speaker Dr.V.Kaviyarasan. Creating awareness on the importance of conservation of biodiversity among the public is the only way for the successful protection of general biodiversity as that of Chipko movement for trees of Himalayan regions, the Secretary emphasized in his valedictory address.

Edible Mushrooms

Fig1. Clitocybe pseudocandida

Fig. 2. Volvariella volvacea

Poisonous Mushrooms

Fig. 3. Hygrocybe minata

Fig. 4. Amanita aureoflocossa

Fig. 5. Gymnopilus spp.

ENVIS CENTRE Newsletter Vol.7,Issue 2 April 2009 Back
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