Scientists discover new fungus species in Thrissur

The new species Trichoglossum syamviswanathii, named after former KFRI director Syam Viswanath, was collected from the moist soil of the Bambusetum of the KFRI Field Research Centre at Palappilly, Thrissur

Updated - February 10, 2024 01:16 am IST

Published - February 09, 2024 11:30 pm IST - Thrissur

Trichoglossum syamviswanathii. Photo: Special Arrangement

Trichoglossum syamviswanathii. Photo: Special Arrangement

Scientists have discovered a new fungus species, Trichoglossum syamviswanathii, from Kerala. Researchers from the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Botanical Survey of India, and the University of Hyderabad are behind the discovery of the new fungus species.

The species Trichoglossum syamviswanathii is named after renowned scientist and former director of KFRI Syam Viswanath for his contribution to the field of forestry in India.

The new fungus species belongs to the family Geoglossaceae (Ascomycota) and was collected from the moist soil of Bambusetum of the KFRI Field Research Centre, Palappilly, in Thrissur. It is characterised and described based on morphological characteristics and molecular phylogenetic analyses, said Shambhu Kumar, senior scientist and head of the Forest Pathology Department, KFRI, a member of the research team.

Abundant diversity

“The Western Ghats region of Kerala is renowned for its abundant fungal diversity, including numerous species that are endemic to this specific area. This finding underscores the importance of ongoing exploration and research into the diverse flora, fauna, and fungi in the Western Ghats,” he said.

Globally, the genus Trichoglossum has so far 55 records (IndexFungorum, Dec. 2023). However, the diversity of species of Trichoglossum in India is poorly represented. Trichoglossum, commonly known as “hairy earth tongues” fungus, are characterised by distinctive features. These fungi exhibit club-shaped apothecia in dark shades of black or brown, explain the researchers.

Trichoglossum species are globally distributed in tropical and temperate forests in at least five continents of the world. The genus exhibits saprotrophic behaviour but can also be found as an endophyte in plant roots. It has been reported that ecological factors play an important role on the morphology and distribution of the fungal forms.

Recycling nutrients

“Trichoglossum species have been reported to play a crucial role in the decomposition of organic matter. They contribute to the breakdown of dead plant material, helping to recycle nutrients in forest ecosystems. The biological potentiality is not much explored, hence further research has to be done for proximate analysis and biological attributes of Trichoglossum syamviswanathii, Dr. Kumar said.

Dr. Shambhu Kumar, Mufeeda K.T. (junior research fellow) of the Forest Pathology Department, KSCSTE-KFRI; S. Mahadevakumar (former junior scientist, KFRI), Scientist, Botanical Survey of India, Andaman & Nicobar; and researchers Chalasani Danteswari and V.S.R.N. Sarma from the University of Hyderabad discovered Trichoglossum syamviswanathii.

This research work is published in the journal Persoonia - Molecular Phylogeny and Evolution of Fungi, published by National Herbarium of the Netherlands on December 30, 2023.

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