First time in India, world's costliest mushroom cultivated artificially

Artificial cultivation of Morchella mushroom successful at DMR Solan

Ambika Sharma

Tribune News Service

Solan, February 25

Indian Council of Agriculture Research-run-Directorate of Mushroom Research (DMR) here has achieved a rare feat of successfully cultivating world’s costliest edible fungi – Morchella mushroom, commonly known as Gucchi.

After making several unsuccessful attempts to cultivate Gucchi mushroom, Dr VP Sharma, Director, DMR assigned the challenge to Dr Anil Kumar in 2019 who prepared a project “Standardization of cultivation technique for Morchella mushroom” to achieve the objective.

Globally acclaimed for its unique flavour and aroma, Morchella mushroom is a culinary delicacy and a gastronomical delight. It is highly valued for treating arthritis, anemia, tumor, etc.

The fresh morel mushroom season is limited to a barely few weeks in the spring. It is collected from the wild habitats in northwestern Himalayas by the locals and primarily exported to Europe and United State of America.

It is sold for price ranging from Rs 10,000 to 30,000 per kg. Owing to difficulties in its artificial cultivation, the wild morels yield huge profits.

Elaborating on the experiment, Dr Anil informed, “Five species were selected for the experiment and after much deliberation substrate preparation technique was standardized for its cultivation.”

“Under continuous rigorous in vitro trials on induction of ascoma (fruit bodies) in Morchellaspp (Gucchi), 3 small ascomata of 0.5 to 1cm were obtained. In the first seasonal cultivation trial started in the month of October 2019, conidial stage (asexual stage) and a mature ascomata of total 13cm length was recorded under green house conditions on April 13, 2020.”

Seeing lesser ascomata and uncertainties about repeatability of the experimental data initially left him disheartened but he was motivated by the director as a valuable breakthrough had been achieved in the history Indian mushroom science.

“I was treading in the positive direction and with continuous efforts I again succeeded and induced 12 ascomata in the second research trial under greenhouse on February 23,” informed Dr Anil.

Since the experiment is still in progress, he is hopeful that fruit bodies of Gucchi will keep on appearing at his experimental site till April. The Gucchi crop is in an advanced stage to produce fruit bodies.

“This is for the first time in the history that ICAR-DMR, Solan, has succeeded in producing fruit bodies of Gucchi mushroom. As a result of this achievement, India has entered the list of select few countries like USA, China, France, etc. who have successfully attempted to cultivate Gucchi mushroom under artificial conditions,” said Dr VP Sharma, Director, DMR.

“There is a need to improvise our technology before it is transferred to the farm communities, hopefully in the next 2-3 years. It will revolutionise the Indian mushroom industry and help in economic uplift of the farmers,” Dr Sharma added.

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