Omani research team records 4 fungi known for the first time in the world

Muscat:  A Omani team from the Oman Center for Animal and Plant Genetic Resources (Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation and Sultan Qaboos University has registered 4 large-size fungi known for the first time in the world.

The new finds belongs to 7 families of common in the Dhofar Governorate, the research forms part of a collection, classification and conservation of large fungi in the Sultanate of Oman, which can be visible to the bare human eye and they measure more than one centimeter in length or width.

The research team succeeded in finding two families of plurotoids, namely, Pleurotaceae and Schizophyllaceae, and one family of jelly fungi (Auriculariaceae). The Sultanate of Oman was also recorded as the source of all these large fungi for the first time, and they were published in international scholarly journals.

During the project, the genetic sequence of the ITS region of fungi was studied for about 60 types of fungi collected in their intact state in Dhofar Governorate, which resulted in the registration of 32 different types of fungi belonging to 24 genera and 17 families of Agaricomycetes.

The project to collect, characterize and preserve macrophytes in the Sultanate of Oman aims to establish the first database of macrophytes in the Sultanate, preserve fungi in the Mawared Center’s microbial cultures collection, in addition to classifying fungi in terms of phenotypic and molecular characterization, and publish refereed scientific papers on the project’s results.

The project of collecting, characterizing and conserving large fungi in the Sultanate of Oman came in three main phases: collection, characterization, and conservation. The project began in 2018 with the first stage of “collection”, where about 80 samples were collected from Dhofar Governorate during the period from 1-15 September 2018, and all samples were documented during collection with pictures and recording all the data required for the identification and characterization stage.

A focus was placed on the Governorate of Dhofar during the Khareef season due to the presence of auxiliary and encouraging factors for the growth of types of fungi or other microorganisms, and the project phases of phenotypic and molecular analyzes were completed in cooperation with the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University.

The project ended with the publication of three scientific papers documenting the registration of (4) species of large fungi within the genera Xanthagaricus, Agaricus, Micropsalliota as a new global update and registration of these species in the Sultanate of Oman, where they were fully described, and the supposed new species were distinguished in the phylogenetic tree.

The research project came out with several important scientific outputs, most notably that the Dhofar Governorate is rich in a diversity of large fungi, and these organisms contribute a lot to serving humanity in terms of manufacturing food, medicines, pharmaceuticals, nutrients, bio-fertilizers, bio-processing, textiles, agriculture, etc.

The study recommended a survey of the area and an appropriate description based on the phenotypic and molecular characteristics, and the preservation and deposit of these fungi in a group of microbial cultures with standard specifications for future reference.

The project team consisted of Dr. Muhammad Al Yahyai, ​​Prof. Dr. Abdullah Al Saadi, Dr. Rethinasamy Vilazahan, Moza Al Kharousi, Doaa Al Muqbaliya, Abdullah Al Balushi, Zahra Al Shabibiah, and the Mazoon team for mountain hikers.

The economic, health and environmental importance of fungi lies in increasing soil fertility and use in the baking industry (fermentation) and the pharmaceutical industry, including penicillinium, and the production and improvement of cheese, and some types of fungi are used in the production of acids and for medicinal purposes for the production of penicillin and others.

Fungi are also included in the food industries, as they are used as food for humans, such as truffles, larks and mushrooms, as these fungi have nutritional value as they contain 20% of fiber, 35% of fresh protein, 20% of dry protein, as well as amino acids and multiple vitamins such as vitamin B1 in addition to Mineral salts such as potassium and phosphorous.

Fungi are described as (vegetable meat) due to their high protein content. Where the global mushroom market in 2021 is estimated at about $54 billion, and it also has a vital role in decomposing organic materials into simple substances, and some types of fungi are edible and others are poisonous. There are several main factors that affect the growth of these types of fungi, including light temperature and humidity. In addition to the pH, as some have certain nutrients and each type of fungus has a specific food type in which it grows.

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