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Morchella (Guchhi)

SYSTEMATIC POSITION

Division

Eumycota

Sub division

Ascomycotina

Class

Discomycetes

Order

Pezizales

Family

Morchellaceae

Genus

Morchella

 OCCURRENCE

  • Ø  The genus Morchella is represented by about 50 species out of which eight species has been reported from India.

  • Ø  All the species grow as obligate saprophytes and are commonly known as ‘morel’, ‘sponge mushroom’ or ‘guchhi’. The morels in reality are the ascocarps (fruiting body) of the fungus which is attached to underground mycelium (Fig 1A).

  • Ø  They mostly grow on humus rich soil and commonly grows on dead leaves, branches of deciduous trees and logs of decaying wood.

  • Ø  Morchella are edible mushrooms and is considered as good as meat or fish. The edible part is the fruiting body or apothecium or ascocarp and is considered as a table delicacy in India. It is of high commercial value and perhaps one of the highly prized edible fungus.

  • Ø  However, the lack of knowledge regarding their biological processes and their ecological interrelationships has limited their production and till now no report has been found to grow morels commercially.

  • Ø  M. deliciosa (edible) and M. esculenta (not edible) are found in Ladakh, Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

 

VEGETATIVE STRUCTURE

  • The hyphae are septate and diffusely branched (Fig 2). The septa are perorated with centrally located simple pore.

  • Ø  Each cell of hyphae contains several nuclei i.e., multinucleate (Fig 2).

  • Ø  The underground mycelium absorbs nutrients and during rainy season the aerial fruiting body called ascocarp develops on the surface of the substratum.

  • Ø  During harsh condition the mycelia produce sclerotia.

 

ASCOCARP OR FRUITING BODY

  • Ø  Under favourable conditions of food and moisture, the mycelial hyphae grow rapidly. The hyphal masses aggregate under the soil surface into a compact structure known as hyphal knots. 

  • Ø  The hyphal knot grows further and comes out of the soil in the form of a small stalked fruiting body (ascocarp) when optimum moisture is available in the soil.

  • Ø  The fruiting body is cup shaped only when young and asci are arranged in it vertically. During further growth the hymenium becomes convex and the asci face outwards.

  • Ø  The mature ascocarp consists of a stalk like structure, the stipe surmounted by a hollow, conical cap like object the pileus (Fig. 1) and both the stipe and pileus are nearly of the same length.

  •  The stipe is a thick, fleshy and hollow structure and is light yellow coloured with waxy surface. It is about 1-2 cm in diameter.

  • The pileus is a brown or black conical structure and constitutes the fertile portion of the ascocarp. The outer surface of pileus shows ridges and depressions which give it a pitted appearance. The ridges are usually sterile whereas the depressions or pits are the fertile areas (Fig 3A).

 

REPRODUCTION

Ø  Asexual reproduction has not been discovered yet or absent and Morchella reproduces only by the sexual method (Fig 4).

Ø  The sex organs which constitute the accessory parts of sexual process are not formed and the mode of sexual fusion is somatogamy (fusion between the two somatic cells) or autogamy (fusion of two nuclei of the same cell). The process is completed by following three steps.

1.                Plasmogamy: 

2.                Karyogamy: 

3.                Meiosis: 



 

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