Ophiocordyceps dipteriengia encountered for the first time in Sikkim Himalaya

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In Pic: Ophiocordyceps dipterienga

A new population of Ophiocordyceps dipterigena was first time encountered from Dzongu, North Sikkim, Indian Himalaya. A team of researcher cum scientist, Mr Prem Kumar Chhetri (Sikkim Forest & Environment Department), Dr Bharat Kumar Pradhan (Sikkim Biodiversity Board) and Mr Bijoy Chhetri (Scientist, BNHS-Sikkim), has recently published their findings in the Journal National Academy Science letter as a research article entitled “ First record of Ophiocordyceps dipterigena Berk. & Broome (Ophiocordycipitaceae) in the Himalayas” on dated on 18 November 2019.

Ophiocordyceps is the most fascinating and unique genus of the earth it infects bodies of the host and transforms them into a structure like mummies (mummified condition). Over 400 species of Ophiocordyceps are well known from the Earth and hosted into ten orders of arthropods to the truffle-like genus Elaphomyces. Most of the species restricted to a solitary host or set of the closely related host. The species reported from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, New Guinea, North, Central and South America, Japan, Ghana and Thailand.

The species encountered from the subtropical forest of the transition zone of KBR (Dzongu, North Sikkim) at altitude 767 m asl and the slope was about 20˚ in the valley of the river (Kanaka, a tributary of the Teesta River). So far, only one species of Ophiocordyceps recorded from the Himalayas as Ophiocordyceps sinensis. (Yarsagumba) O. sinensis contains a polysaccharide that protects against free-radical-induced neuronal cell toxicity. The polysaccharide also used in fatigue, night sweating, male and female hypo sexualities including impotence, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, asthenia after severe illness, respiratory diseases, renal dysfunction and renal failure, arrhythmias and other heart diseases, liver diseases and cancer, etc. Similarly, the recent studies revealed that Ophiocordyceps dipterigena produces an exobiopolymer (β-D-glucan) which used in the cosmetic industry as moisturizer and encapsulation. So, both the species could be a good income generating sources for the local people to support their livelihood in Sikkim Himalaya with sustainable way.

By Prem Baniya Chettri

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