The distinct presence of copper in industrial effluents can be attributed to the electroplating, textile, dyeing operations etc. According to the World Health Organization (W.H.O., 1984), copper is one among the heavy metals of most immediate concerns on human health, as its adverse effects include a genetically inherited condition called Wilson’s disease (Negah Fatemi and Bibudhendra Sarkar, 2002). While conventional methods to remove copper, such as physical treatment entail large capital and operating costs, consumptive processes such as chemical precipitation results in vast sludge production (Benedict Anyata et al., 2007). As an inadvertent outcome, alternative methodologies such as Bioremediation are gaining prominence (M. Vidali, 2001).
While field experiments have used gourmet oyster mushrooms to decompose soil contaminated with PCB’s (Dietzler G., 2005), laboratory experiments concentrated on adsorption studies on removal of cadmium using Agaricus bisporus and Lentinus edodes achieving 68% and 45% removal efficiency respectively (Denis Roy Cullimore et al., 2003). Though a variety of research has been undertaken towards heavy metal uptake, the role and potential of milky white mushrooms, is yet to be thoroughly investigated and ascertained for copper removal.
In the present study, laboratory batch scale analysis has been conducted using commercially available milky white mushrooms Calocybe indica (Figure 1). It grows in nature on humus and soil, under the road side trees and forests. Its artificial cultivation technique has been perfected and has been adopted by farmers in T amilnadu and Karnataka. It can be cultivated on wheat / paddy straw at temperature around 35°C. The variety was selected for its similarity with the non-edible [wildlife] variety Lactarius volemus, keeping in mind the future scope of studies where in it is to be duly substituted once the mushroom season on-sets.