In order to create awareness of the importance of mushrooms, the students of S3 B.Sc. Microbiology hosted a program named “Mycoscope” November 10th-11th, 2016. The Mycoscope 2016 programme presented an expo on the properties and uses of fungi, as well as recent discoveries about the fungi kingdom.
At "Mycoscope" the students learned that a number of fungi, in particular the yeasts, are important "model organisms" for studying problems in genetics and molecular biology. Fungi include some of the most important organisms, both in terms of their ecological and economic roles. By breaking down dead organic material, they continue the cycle of nutrients through ecosystems. In addition, most vascular plants could not grow without the symbiotic fungi, or mycorrhizae, that inhabit their roots and supply essential nutrients.
Other fungi provide numerous drugs (such as penicillin and other antibiotics), foods like mushrooms, truffles and morels, and the bubbles in bread, champagne, and beer. Fungi also cause a number of plant and animal diseases: in humans, ringworm, athlete's foot, and several more serious diseases are caused by fungi. Fungi are more chemically and genetically similar to animals than other organisms, which makes fungal diseases very difficult to treat. Plant diseases caused by fungi include rusts, smuts, and leaf, root, and stem rots, and may cause severe damage to crops.
Fungi are an ideal source of food as they contain high levels of fiber, which plays an important role in weight management by functioning as a "bulking agent" in the digestive system. They are good source of protein, vitamins (source of Vitamin D), folic acid and containing all the essential amino acids and have virtually sodium free and no cholesterol. They possess, antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer and antidiabetic properties, boost the immune system and contribute to cardiovascular health.
Mushrooms can be grown on composted straw and animal manure indoors where the temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels are tightly controlled. There has been a big increase in the interest in more 'exotic' mushrooms in the last twenty-five years, and now species such as Lentinula and Pleurotus can be found along side Agaricus , the most extensively cultivated mushroom, in most supermarkets.
The event included a workshop on mushroom cultivation and a cooking competition was conducted with the faculty members making dishes with mushrooms. Faculty members Ajith Madhavan and Chinchu Bose bagged the first prize in the cooking competition. The cultivated mushrooms by the students were exhibited in the event which included Pleurotus and Milky mushrooms. The Amrita School of Biotechnology thanked Prof. Bipin Nair and also other faculty members for their valuable support. "Mycoscope" was a grand success and brought the students and staff together in an event that combined scientific analysis, practical application and the joy of cooking.