First in the world: Omani researchers discover 4 fungi in Dhofar

MUSCAT : In another first in the world, Omani researchers have discovered four fungi in the Dhofar governorate.

A joint team – comprising researchers at the Oman Center for Animal and Plant Genetic Resources, Mawarid of the Ministry of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation and Sultan Qaboos University – has recorded four large fungi apart from seven different families of common fungi.

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

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 was for collection, characterisation and conservation of large fungi in the Sultanate.

The project started in 2018 with the first phase – collection – where about 80 samples were collected from Dhofar Governorate during the period from 1-15 September 2018, and all samples were documented with pictures and data required for the identification and characterization phases.

It focused 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 four species of large fungi within the genera Xanthagaricus, Agaricus, Micropsalliota as new global update and registration of these species in the Sultanate, 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 the richness and diversity of Dhofar Governorate in large fungi, and the contribution of these organisms to humanity in terms of manufacturing food, medicines, pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, bio-fertilizers, bio-processing, textiles, agriculture, etc.

The project team consisted of Dr. Muhammad Al Yahyai, Prof. Dr. Abdullah Al Saadi, Dr. Rethinasamy Villazahan, Moza Al Kharousi, Doaa Al Muqbaliya, Abdullah Al Balushi, Zahra Al Shabibiah, and the Mazoon (guides) team.

The economic, health and environmental importance of fungi lies in increasing soil fertility and use in the 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. These mushrooms 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 the high proportion of proteins in them. 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.

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