Fungi and its relationship with Humans

The following is a great article by John E. Peterson, a former Mycology professor.  The article discusses the increasing problems fungi can cause.

“Fungi and human disease”

John E. Peterson, Special to the Gazette

Thursday, August 18, 2011

“When people who know me come across something about fungi, they often think of me. And sometimes contact me.

Why? Because I am interested in fungi and know a bit about them. I taught mycology, a course about fungi, for 18 years at the University of Missouri. Think of fungi as yeasts, mold and mushrooms, but there are many others. About 150 million species are known in our world.

I have not taught fungal classes since coming to Emporia. My duties have been quite different. I have, however, gone into classes to give lectures on fungi many times and at many places. For example, I have given eillustrated lectures about fungi at schools in Americus, Council Grove, Cottonwood Falls and here in Emporia. I gave my “Fabulous Fungi” at Emporia High School six times in one day. I often went into the classes at Emporia State and various community colleges as well as non-academic group meetings.

That rambling paragraph above was primarily to tell you that I am known as a fungi-interested person. That leads me to say that Dr. DeWayne Backhus, Chair of Physical Sciences at ESU, gave me a journal in which he had read an article on fungi. As he thought it would be, it was, indeed, of much interest to me. It stimulated this column. It will be of interest to some of you, if I have my way.

The journal DeWayne gave me was Science News. It’s cover had a big, colorful picture of microscopic fungus on it. Printed on the cover was “Fatal Friends: How the body fights back when fungi turn deadly.” The article inside was headed with “Conquering the rising tide of infection is hindered by the many similarities between humans and fungi.” And the entire page showed, in color, three spore-producing structures of Aspergillus fumigatus, a fungus common in house dust. It causes infection in some people.

That was what this article was about: The increasing problems fungi cause people. We are discovering that many genetic aspects of fungi are like our own. They definitely decrease our ability to control our fungal problems. Hence, they are increasing.

Fungi and humans are both eukaryotes. Bacteria and viruses are not. Eukaryotes have the genetic material in each cell in a nucleus in the cell. Genetic material in bacteria and viruses is scattered in the cells. No nucleus. Now it is being found that the similarity in the fungal and human genetic material sometimes brings on fungal problems in humans.”

To read the complete article or email the author

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