TODAY -

Narin Chenggum - The most popular wild edible mushroom in Manipur

Dr N Irabanta Singh *



Introduction

Narin Chenggum (Termitomyces eurrhizus Berk Heim) is a agaric fungus belonging to the family Tricholomataceae under the order Agaricales. It is the most popular wild edible mushroom in Manipur due to its unique and subtle flavor.

Distribution, habitat and ecology

Termitomyces eurrhizus has been recorded from Pakistan, India (West Bengal, all districts of Manipur), Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Southern China and Malaysia. Like other members of the groups the mushroom grow out of termite mounds. T. eurrhizus is associated with termite species (Macrotermes gilvas in Malaysia and Odonototermes badius in Sri Lanka).

These termites are the species of Macrotermitinate (Isoptera)(Heim,1977; Batra and Batra, 1979; Bels and Patragevit,1982, Rouland-Lefevre etal, 2002). The fungus and the termites have a complex symbiotic relationship. The termites cultivate the fungus on plant material within the mound which they eat. The nutrients in their food are made more digestible by the fungus. After rain (May to July), the fungus is trigerred into producing large mushrooms that grow and spread spores elsewhere.

Description

Sporophore solitary or in groups, growing on soil associated with termite nests. Pileus 3:00 to 7:00 cm in diameter, at first convex, later expanded with prominent umbo, scales present on the surface, firm margin regular, not in curved. Gills crowded, distinctly formed, free, white entire. Spore print pink, stipe 10-20 cm long, 1-2 cm thick dirty white somewhat tough, solid above the ground and hollow below the soil, annulus present but persistent, volva absent.

Flesh white, basidia 4 spored, 22.5-22.06.5-7.5 um. Basiospores 6.5-9.55.5-7.0 um. Pleurocystidia and Cleitocystidia presemt, clavate, sometimes ventricose-rostrate above the general level of the hymenium, Cheilocystidia usually napiform.

Artificial cultivation

Earlier no information is available on artificial cultivation of Termitomyces eurrhizus. Hence, we tried for artificial cultivation with locally available saw dust of Uningthou (Phoebe hainsiana Brandish in HK; Family Lauraceae). It can be taken as a substitute for artificial fungus of T. eurrhizus.

Nutrient analysis

The nutrient composition of indigenous Termitomyces eurrhizus, fungus combs, Termitomyces growing soil and sawdust of Uningthou (Phoebe hainsiana) found in Manipur were determined. Atomic absorption spectrophotometry was used to determine the mineral element composition.

The results revealed all the samples tested contain appreciable amount of essential nutrients. The results on a dry weight (mg/kg) basis demonstrated that all the samples tested shows significant amount of macro and micronutrients ranging from Ca (0.15-15.10), Mg (0.70-2.78), K (1.05-5.47), Cu (0.04-0.45), Mn (0.13-7.94), Fe (0.90-22.47) and Zn (3.50-6.25) respectively.

Saw dust of Uningthou(Phoebe hainsiana) was having relatively low nutrients in comparision with other three tested samples. Iron is the most abundant nutrients in all the test samples except Uningthou(Phoebe hainsiana) saw dust ( Babita Devi etal, 2014).

Discussion

The mineral concentration of three strains of T. eurrhizus can be influenced by a number of factors including strain type, stage of the mushrooms, the composition of the growth-substrate and the environment (water, temperature and humidity) ( Babita Devi, etal, 2014).

Ukhrul district, Manipur produces considerable amount of wild edible mushrooms ( Narin Chenggum) because of its favourable climatic conditions. But during this year (2018) due to uneven rainfall, there has been an unprecedented decrease in the production of wild mushrooms.

The door to door sale of wild mushrooms is almost nil this year (TSE July 30, 2018). T. eurrhizus consumed by the indigenous people of Manipur state have always been harvested wild and no effort has been made to cultivate these varieties on a commercial scale.

Economies of Narin Chenggum

Women venders at Khairamband and Lamlong Bazaars sale small bunches 3 sporophore (Mapun) @Rs.50-60/- whereas women vender at Ukhrul to Imphal road sale @ Rs 20-30 per bundle of same mapun. According to newspaper report, a women vendor could earn Rs 10,000/- per month during June-July. (TSE July 30, 2018)

Conclusion and Recommendation

Narin Chenggum (Termitomyces eurrhizus) hold tremendous promise in addressing the minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc deficits prevalent in the diets particularly among the low income families such as women and children.

Large scale artificial cultivation of Narin Chenggum (Termitomyces eurrhizus is recommended by using loally available Uningthou sawdust (Phoebe haisiana) as a substrate for the fungus comb.


* Dr N Irabanta Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is former Professor (Higher Academic Grade) / Life Sciences, M.U. and Former Dean, School of Life Sciences, Manipur University and can be contacted through irabanta(DOT)singh(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on September 07, 2018.



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