From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : MeFSAT
Mains level : Not Much
An analytical study of medicinal fungi using MeFSAT carried out by researchers from Chennai shows that some chemicals they secrete may find use as novel drugs.
What is MeFSAT?
- MeFSAT (Medicinal Fungi Secondary Metabolites and Therapeutics) is a database that compiles information on 184 medicinal fungi, including mushrooms.
- It is a manually curated database that compiles information on secondary metabolites and reported therapeutic uses of medicinal fungi from published research articles and specialized books on the subject.
Why in news?
- Chennai-based researchers analysed the structure of 1,830 secondary metabolites of medicinal fungi.
- Secondary metabolites are chemical compounds that fungi produce when they are stressed.
- They enhance the fungus’ ability to survive.
What are medicinal fungi?
- Medicinal fungi belongs to two taxonomic divisions namely, basidiomycota and ascomycota.
- Mushrooms belong to the basidiomycota division. An example is Agaricus bisporus, the button mushroom, which can be consumed.
- Fungi belonging to the ascomycota division are generally not mushrooms.
Examples of fungi-based medicines
- Cordycepin, a secondary metabolite produced by Cordyceps species of fungus, is known to have anti-tumor properties.
- Not only cordycepin, in general, but several secondary metabolites are also known to be beneficial for humans in terms of both therapy and health.