Fungal diversity inside caves of Southern India

Koilraj, A. J. ; Marimuthu, G. ; Natarajan, K. ; Saravanan, S. ; Maran, P. ; Hsu, M. J. (1999) Fungal diversity inside caves of Southern India Current Science, 77 (8). pp. 1081-1084. ISSN 0011-3891

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Thirty-five species of sporulating mesophilous fungi and seven types of non-sporulating fungi were isolated from the soil samples collected at the entrance, twilight and dark zones of six caves. Of these, 27 species belong to Deuteromycetes, 8 species belong to Zygomycetes and one species belongs to Ascomycetes. The genus Aspergillus and Penicillium were present in large numbers in all the three zones. Fungi like Aspergillus flavus, Penicillium cyclopium and Chae-tomium sp. were predominantly available from all the samples in all the six caves. Ten species of fungi such as A. chevalieri, A. versicolor, A. sydowi, Aspergillus sp., Curvularia brachyspora, Fusarium sp., Geotrichum candidum, P. fellutanum, Mucor sp. and Rhizopus stolonifer were isolated from light available zones. The number of species of fungi and the number of propagules/gram of soil obtained from the entrance zone soil sample were significantly more compared to that of the twilight and dark zone soil samples of the caves. The fungi, Cunninghamella echinata was isolated only from the dark zone of caves 2 and 5, which were occupied exclusively by a colony of carnivorous bat Megaderma lyra. Insectivorous bats such as Hipposideros speoris H. fulvus and Rhinopoma hardwickei occupied other areas. Syncephalis sp., a rare fungus, has been isolated only from the dark zone of a cave.

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