Himalayan Viagra, a more precious gold mushroom, threatened by climate change

0
15

Wikimedia Commons

The Yarchagumba mushroom, known as Himalayan Viagra and with the scientific name of Ophiocordyceps sinensis, is a very elusive product and appreciated in Asia, where it is considered a prodigious medicine. The acquisition has led to the deaths of clashes to many people in China and Nepal throughout history. Now, this rare fungus is also threatened by climate change, according to a team of scientists from Stanford University (USA).

Its benefits have no scientific evidence, but those who believe in its properties boil it in water to make tea or add it to soups and stews, because they believe it heals everything from impotence to cancer. It is "one of the most precious biological products in the world and is a crucial source of income for hundreds of thousands of collectors", according to a new study, published in PNAS, which states that the production of this fungus is decreasing, not only because of overfishing, but also because of global warming.

In recent decades, the mushroom has gained popularity and prices have skyrocketed, to triple the price of gold in Beijing, according to researchers, who interviewed about four dozen collectors, collectors and traders and examined the scientific literature previously published, including interviews with over 800 people in Nepal, Bhutan, India and China, to understand their apparent decline.

PNAS

They also analyzed climate models, geographical factors and environmental conditions to create a map of the production of Yarchagumba in the region, concluding that over-exploitation by itself does not explain its disappearance: the change in climate models influences it. The discovery "is important because it draws attention to the way in which high value species, like this fungus, are susceptible not only to over-exploitation, as is usually the approach, but also to climate change", he has declared. AFP the main author of the study, Kelly Hopping. "This means that even if people start to reduce the amount they collect, it is likely that production will continue to decline due to ongoing climate change," he says.

Very special conditions

This cone-shaped mushroom is only 3,000 meters high and is formed when the parasitic fungus settles in a caterpillar, killing it slowly. To grow, you need a specific climate with winter temperatures below freezing point but where the ground is not permanently frozen. As winter temperatures fell significantly from 1979 to 2013 on most of their range, and especially in Bhutan, their populations are likely to have been negatively affected.

The warming trend has particularly affected Bhutan, as average temperatures in winter "increased 3.5-4 degrees Celsius in most of its habitat," the study added. This is a problem for collectors who sell the mushroom to survive. "This decrease in the availability of this fungus will be devastating for local economies, and these communities need other viable livelihood options," the authors conclude.

Beatriz de Vera

This news was originally published on N + 1, a science that is added.

About N + 1: It is the first online scientific and technological publication that allows the total or partial reproduction of its contents through communication, bloggers and influencers, making mention of the text and the link to the web: "This news has it was originally published in the journal N + 1, science that adds: www.nmas1.org ".

.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.