The traditional knowledge of people belonging to Kaani tribe in the Western Ghats of Kanyakumari district has helped a research student secure her doctorate.
The Kaani tribe, who inhabit hills and deep jungles, are a veritable storehouse of traditional wisdom. Their traditional knowledge is passed orally through generations. Mushrooms form a prominent place in their menu. Since Kanyakumari district is blessed by two monsoons, the tribal people go in search of mushrooms after the rain. Environmental educator S.S. Davidson, who is conducting research on the culture of the Kaani tribe, told The Hindu that the tribal people shared their knowledge on a host of edible mushrooms to a team of mycologists headed by him. A research scholar, Johnsy Moses, chose an edible mushroom, ‘Lentinus,’ for her doctoral research at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Botany of Madras University.
The edible mushroom was cultured in controlled laboratory conditions in the university. The culture spawns were transferred to the place of occurrence of the mushroom in the wild where they were spotted. It was cultured using processed paddy hay. The cultured spawns showed positive results from the 20th day of culture.
The ‘Lentius’ mushroom grows at the base of bamboos. If bamboo clusters were destroyed or degraded, there was every possibility of this edible mushroom species facing extinction owing to loss of habitat.
These wild mushrooms could be commercially exploited to add variety to the menu, said Davidson. The research scholar was awarded PhD degree for her research. She was guided by V. Kaviarasan, a mycology expert in Madras University.