Context: A tiny, fragile-looking mushroom sporting a honey-yellow ‘cap’ found on the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode here has been identified as a new species.
Key facts regarding mushrooms
- Mushroom are the umbrella-shaped fruiting body (sporophore) of certain fungi.
How plants, animals and mushrooms differ?
Plants have chlorophyll and make their own food through photosynthesis.Animals ingest their food. Fungi, lacking chlorophyll, exist on decaying material in nature and on substrate of various compositions when commercially grown.
Note – Although considered a vegetable, mushrooms are neither a plant nor animal food. They are a type of fungus that contains a substance called ergosterol, similar in structure to cholesterol in animals. Ergosterol can be transformed into vitamin D with exposure to ultraviolet light.
- Popularly, the term mushroom is used to identify the edible sporophores.
- The term toadstool is often reserved for inedible or poisonous sporophores.
- Edible mushrooms and fungi are free of cholesterol and contain small amounts of essential amino acids and B vitamins.
- By fresh weight, the common commercially grown mushroom is more than 90% water, less than 3% protein, less than 5% carbohydrate, less than 1% fat, and about 1% mineral salts and vitamins.
- Poisoning by wild mushrooms is common and may be fatal or produce merely mild gastrointestinal disturbance or slight allergic reaction.
- Non-nutritive substances like indoles, polysaccharides, polyphenols, and carotenoids which show antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects are more important in mushrooms.
- Mushrooms also have the presence of an amino acid called glutamate, which is also found in meats, fish, cheeses, and simmering soups.