Gujarat scientists grow one of costliest mushrooms priced at Rs 1.5 lakhs per Kg

  • | Thursday | 20th May, 2021

Scientists at Kutch-based Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE) have successfully cultivated – ‘cordyceps militaris’ – a mushroom species that traditionally found its use in Chinese and Tibetan herbal medicines.

For long they have tickled your taste buds while adding nutritional value to Chinese, Japanese, Italian and Thai cuisines. But now a mushroom species, touted to be one of the costliest in the world, has also turned out to be of medicinal value.

Scientists at Kutch-based Gujarat Institute of Desert Ecology (GUIDE) have successfully cultivated – ‘cordyceps militaris’ – a mushroom species that traditionally found its use in Chinese and Tibetan herbal medicines. The scientists grew the mushrooms in 35 jars in a controlled environment in a laboratory within 90 days giving 350 grams yield. The mushroom is valued at Rs1.50 lakh a kg.

The institute which has found it useful in treating even breast cancer has decided to provide training to entrepreneurs at a very nominal fee as a livelihood option to cultivate mushrooms at laboratory scale.

“C. militaris is known as Himalayan gold. It has a multitude of health benefits and can potentially prevent a wide range of lifestyle illness. The fungus is club-shaped and the surface appears roughly punctured. The inner fungal tissue is whitish to pale orange. It is now possible to cultivate it in labs under controlled conditions,” said GUIDE’s director V Vijay Kumar.

The institute has studied the antitumor element of this mushroom variety in detail. “We explored the in-vivo anticancer activity of the extracts against breast cancer in animal models. This was done in coordination with Nirma University, Ahmedabad.

The preliminary investigation reveals extracts of this mushroom can provide significant results in terms of reduction in breast cancer tumour,” said K Karthikeyan, senior scientist and head of environment laboratory division at GUIDE. The institute has sought regulatory permission to carry out clinical trials on humans. “We are also studying its effect on prostate cancer but it has been delayed due to Covid-19 induced pandemic,” he said.

Plans are to test anti-viral and anti-cancer properties of this species in Indian conditions. “With proper awareness, we can make this wonderful nutritional and medicinal supplement available to a broader population,” said V Vijay Kumar, adding that GUIDE scientist G Jayanti and professor Jigna Shah from Nirma University were also part of this study.

Training of mushroom cultivation at laboratory scale costs as high as Rs one lakh a week. But GUIDE will provide this training at a normal charge.

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