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Introduction to Clinical Mycology

Part One

Importance of Fungi

Slide 20

November 2011

One of the things that the fungi have a very important role in doing is keeping the carbon cycle going. They break down organic matter and decompose it into carbon. They cause disease in trees for example like Dutch elm disease, which is a devastating thing for a population of trees and we lose them all whenever they get Dutch Elm. Crop diseases in wheat, corn, barley: corn smut is one of those examples of that and we actually have seen patients who have had disease caused by corn smut. Wood and timber degradation: if you look at wood, you will see that there are some purple to blue materials sometimes on there where the wood gets broken down by these fungi and it damages it. Another very important thing is these fungi can cause spoilage of food, particularly grain in developing countries, where grain is the primary staple; the grain will get infected with a fungus and will produce a toxin called aflatoxin, if it happens to be infected by aspergillus, and actually cause substantial disease in these patients and often times liver cancer. And where would we be without the fungi in the brewing and baking industry? We would be nowhere because the yeasts are the things that causes fermentation so they play a major role in that.

Importance of Fungi


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