Thirty-three strains of button mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) were procured from Indian Type culture Collection (ITCC) and evaluated for their cultural characteristics, fruit body traits and yield potential. The isolates were grown on Yeastral Potato Dextrose Agar medium and on the basis of cultural characteristics, the strains were broadly divided into three groups having fast, medium and slow growing colonies. Most of the fast growing colonies had fluffy mycelium (ITCC-3607, 3614, 3615, 3616, 3697, 3706 and 3708), a few with appressed, patchy and dendric growth characteristics (ITCC-1924, 2075 and 3710), where as slow-growing strains had appressed (ITCC-1929, 3608, 4004, 4291 and 3502), a few with dense (ITCC-1927, 3696, 3709 and 4290) and patchy growth (ITCC-3609 and 4291). The strains having medium mycelial growth had both fluffy and appressed mycelium with dense and strandy mycelia. The colour of colonies varied from milky white, creamy white and snowy white in different strains according to their specific character. Sector formation were observed in most of the fast (ITCC-1924, 1928, 3607, 3616 etc.), in few medium (ITCC-3554, 3618 and 3741) and slow growing strains (ITCC-3609 and 3696). Zone formation was observed in ITCC-1926, 1927, 3613, 3615, 3617, 3707 and 3741 and in majority of slow-growing strains. The isolates were cultivated for sporophores production on wheat straw compost, prepared by long method of composting. On the basis of yield productivity, the strains were broadly grouped into three categories viz. high, medium and poor yielding strains. Yield potential of different strains ranged from 2050g (ITCC-4289) to 15360g (ITCC-3741)/100 kg compost. Fruit body colour also varied from creamy white, snowy white, milky white, buff white and brown among different strains. On the basis of compactness, unchanged colour and shelf-life of the fruit bodies, the strains were divided into three categories, viz. best (13 strains), good (10 strains) and average (9 strains) quality respectively. Fast and medium fast growing strains (ITCC-1924, 1926, 1931, 2074, 2075, 3554, 3607, 3618, 3708, 3710 and 4288) with fluffy, strandy and dendric mycelial characters (together with appressed mycelium), produced high productivity and quality mushrooms than those strains with slow, appressed and patchy mycelial growth characteristics. A few slow growing strains (ITCC-1927, 3608, 3609, 3611 and 4004), also yielded good quality mushrooms, in spite of their lower yield productivity
Agaricus bisporus, Colony characteristics, Mushroom cultivation, Strain evaluation, Variability, Yield potential
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