Fungi and Man

Fungi are part of the Kingdom Fungi and are heterotrophic organisms. The most common forms of fungi are known by the terms yeast, mold, and mushroom. Because of the diversity of the organisms classified as fungi, these have numerous effects on humans. These impacts can be either positive or negative in nature. Likewise, humans and their activities also impact the status of fungi across the world.

The most common impact of yeast on human activities is in its use in food preparation and preservation. Beer and wine, for example are fermented with the use of yeast. Baker’s yeast, scientifically known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is also used in preparing bread.Some fungal spores such as Penicillium roqueforti are also incorporated in cheese production to create new textures and colorations in the cheese.

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Certain types of mushrooms are also numbered along with other human food. The most familiar would be button mushrooms, Agaricus bisporus, which is mixed in with many soups and salads.Other impacts of fungi on human activities involve the drug and chemical industries. The production of certain antibiotics is done with the help of fungi. The miracle drug, penicillin, is a very solid example of a very useful impact of fungi on human life. Also, specific industrial chemicals are also synthesized through fungi.The types of fungi that are used in food, drug, and chemical production are non-toxic or edible. There are many other types of fungi, however, that have detrimental effects on humans.

An example of a mushroom that can have fatal effects on humans who ingest it are death cap mushrooms. These mushrooms are especially dangerous because they often resemble other types of edible and harmless mushrooms. (Death caps, 10)Some fungi can cause skin growths in humans. One severe case is documented in Moore’s article “Tree man ‘who grew roots’ may be cured”.

Dede, the tree man of Indonesia had a compromised immune system Fungi attacked his body and created warts all over his skin which gave him the appearance of having roots and bark.More common fungal skin growths, however, are seen in toenail fungi or athlete’s foot. The problem with such growths is in the fact that fungi resemble human cells and medication that would prove harmful to these organisms would also often be harmful to human cells. (Horowitz, 92)Human activities have also had effects on fungi. Because these organisms are not able to produce their own food, human activities such as agriculture, food production, and the like have allowed for the propagation of many types of fungi.Conditions of moisture present in certain buildings have, for example, allowed the growth of molds. It is also true, however, that continued urban developments have wiped out or altered many areas that were once homes to fungi that have not been utilized for the daily life of man.

Use of fungi in the production of drugs and chemical products have also allowed for the development of variations within particular types of fungi.It is clear that fungi and man have a complex and dynamic relationship. It is important that respect be developed for these organisms. Continued protection of the habitats of all fungi should be observed. If we have found numerous uses for the types of fungi we now use, there may still be greater uses for the variety of fungi we have classified as dangerous or non-usable.Works Cited“Death caps.” Newsweek 27 January 1997: 10. Horowitz, Janice M.

“It’s Not Just Athlete’s Foot.” Time 15 January 2001: 92.Moore, Matthew. “Tree man ‘who grew roots’ may be cured.” 13 January 2008.

Telegraph.co.uk.

09 June 2008 <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1569156/Tree-man-‘who-grew-roots’-may-be-cured.html>