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International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms
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ISSN Imprimir: 1521-9437
ISSN En Línea: 1940-4344

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International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms

DOI: 10.1615/IntJMedMushr.v11.i2.70
pages 185-189

Genetic Variability Assessment in Medicinal Caterpillar Fungi Cordyceps spp. (Ascomycetes) in Central Himalayas, India

Ranjit Singh
Defence Agricultural Research Laboratory, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand, 262 501 India ; Defence Institute of Bio-Energy Research, Haldwani, India
Prem Singh Negi
Defence Agricultural Research Laboratory, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand, 262 501 India ; Defence Institute of Bio-Energy Research, Haldwani, India
Zakwan Ahmed
Defence Institute of Bio-Energy Research (DIBER), HQ, Haldwani, P.O. - Arjunpur, Uttarakhand -263139, India


Two species of the genus Cordyceps, namely, C. sinensis and C. militaris, are found in the high altitudes (4000−5000 m) and low altitudes (2500−2800 m), respectively, in the central Himalayan hills of India. The natural populations of C. sinensis and C. militaris have variations in color, shape, size, and number of stroma and have single or multiple stromae at one or both of the ends. The biochemical characterizations of in vitro-cultured mycelium vis-à-vis natural specimens of C. sinensis contain almost the same concentrations of cordycepin, an important bioactive ingredient. This study was conducted to find the genetic similarity between the natural samples and the cultured ones, as well as to find the extent of genetic variability existing within natural populations. A total of 45 random primers were screened. Twenty random RAPD primers were selected for PCR amplification, and amplicon levels were scored. Primers showed a very high level of polymorphism. Out of a total of 362 bands detected, 87% were polymorphic. Genetic similarity indices ranged from 0.282 to 0.782, indicating a high level of diversity within natural samples. RAPD polymorphs were analyzed with a phenatic distance measure (Jacquard coefficient), and a dendrogram was constructed. Two genetically different groups of Cordyceps spp. were identified in the natural population, indicating intrageneric diversity. The in vitro-cultured mycelia of C. sinensis have only 5% genetic variability from their mother samples. This is a significant finding that in vitro-cultured C. sinensis can yield almost the same d-mannitol content that is being yielded by the natural samples. This study will be helpful in the reduction of the market price of C. sinensis and will also contribute to the conservation of the dwindling natural population of this valuable medicinal species.