Western Ghats: Home to Newly Discovered Mushroom Species

The Western Ghats, a mountain range that runs along the western coast of India, is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. It hosts a variety of plant and animal species, many of which are endemic and endangered. Recently, researchers from the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) in Palode, Kerala, India, have added a new member to this rich flora: a new species of mushroom named Candolleomyces albosquamosus .

A Tiny Treasure

Candolleomyces albosquamosus is a small, delicate mushroom with a honey-yellow cap and a white stem. It grows to a height of about 58 mm and has a cap diameter ranging from 12 mm to 38.5 mm. The cap is covered with white, woolly scale-like structures, giving it a unique appearance. The mushroom belongs to the genus Candolleomyces, which is a relatively small genus with only 35 recognized species worldwide .

The researchers collected specimens of this mushroom from the natural forests on the JNTBGRI campus, specifically from dead logs and bamboo culms. They performed detailed morphological and molecular studies to confirm that the specimens represent an undescribed species of Candolleomyces. They published their findings in the scientific journal Phytotaxa.

A Vital Role

Mushrooms like Candolleomyces albosquamosus are essential for decomposing plant litter in tropical forests, contributing to nutrient cycling in the ecosystem. They are classified as secondary saprophytic fungi, which means they feed on dead or decaying organic matter. The researchers noted that this role is especially important in tropical forests, where the turnover of plant litter is huge compared to temperate forests .

The discovery of Candolleomyces albosquamosus highlights the ecological importance of secondary saprophytic fungi in forest ecosystems. It also underscores the need for ongoing exploration and research into the diverse flora and fauna of the Western Ghats. The identification of this new species adds to our understanding of the unique biodiversity in this region. It emphasizes the significance of preserving and studying these ecosystems.

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