This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Mushrooms”. This topic has relevance in the “Ecology and Environment” section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

What are key characteristics of mushrooms? 

For Mains:

GS3: Ecology and Environment


Why in the news?

A newly discovered mushroom species has been identified in the Western Ghats by researchers.


About Mushrooms

  • Mushrooms, also known as toadstools, are fleshy and spore-bearing fruiting bodies of fungi. They are typically found above ground, growing on soil or their food source. 
  • The word ‘toadstool’ is commonly used to describe fungi considered toxic, whereas “mushroom” is typically used to categorise fungi that are safe to eat.
  • They lack chlorophyll and, unlike plants, do not engage in photosynthesis. 
  • Instead, they derive nutrients through the decomposition of organic matter or by forming symbiotic relationships with plants, particularly through mycorrhizal fungi.

Morphology of Mushrooms: 

  • The standard mushroom morphology includes a stem (stipe), a cap (pileus), and gills (lamellae) on the underside of the cap. 
  • These gills produce microscopic spores, aiding the fungus’s spread across the ground or surrounding surface.


Nutritional Profile: 

  • Mushrooms offer several nutritional benefits. They are low in calories and fat and a good source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  • They contain essential nutrients such as B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid) and minerals (selenium, potassium, and copper). 
  • Mushrooms also contain various beneficial compounds, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. 
  • These compounds may help to protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Certain mushroom species, like shiitake mushrooms, are also known for their potential health benefits.


Medicinal Properties: 

  • Certain mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for their potential medicinal properties. 
  • For example, reishi mushrooms (Ganoderma lucidum) are believed to boost the immune system and have anti-inflammatory properties. 
  • Lion’s mane mushrooms (Hericium erinaceus) may enhance brain function and promote nerve regeneration. 


Some interesting facts:

  • Some mushrooms can glow in the dark. This phenomenon is called bioluminescence, caused by a chemical reaction that produces light.
  • The largest living organism on Earth is a fungus: It is a honey fungus in Oregon that covers an area of over 2,200 acres.
  • There are an estimated 3.8 million species of fungi worldwide, but only a small fraction of these have been identified and classified.
  • Mushrooms play an essential role in the ecosystem by breaking down dead organic matter. This process of decomposition helps to recycle nutrients back into the soil.


Sources: Researchers identify a new mushroom species from the Western Ghats – The Hindu

Download plutus ias current affairs eng med 01st Nov 2023

Q1. With reference to mushrooms, consider the following statements: 

  1. The ‘toadstool’ is commonly used to describe toxic fungi.
  2. Mushrooms are low in calories, proteins and fats. 
  3. They have anti-cancer characteristics and can protect against chronic diseases such as heart disease.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 1 and 3 only

(c) 3 only 

(d) None 



Q2.Consider the following statements:

  1. Some mushrooms have medicinal properties.
  2. Some mushrooms have psychoactive properties
  3. Some mushrooms have insecticidal properties
  4. Some mushrooms have bioluminescent properties.

How many of the above statements are correct? (UPSC CSE 2023 PYQ)

(a) Only one

(b) Only two

(c) Only three

(d) All four



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