Economic importance of Fungi:
Fungi are helpful to mankind in numerous ways. These organisms play a significant role in agriculture, medicine, and industry. They contain harmful effects too.Useful aspects of fungi:
The antibiotic Penicillin was introduced in 1928 by Alexander Fleming of Britain from the fungus Penicillium notatum that in the year 1940 emerged as a ‘wonder drug’ for the treatment of bacterial diseases. It provides another significant ‘niche’ to fungi in the realm of biological sciences as the producers of antibiotics. Most of the other significant antibiotics are generated by moulds.
Most of the fungi like mushrooms, yeast, truffles, morels and so on are edible. Edible mushrooms contain vitamins and proteins. Some species of Agaricus like A. arvensis, A. Bisporus are edible. Volvariella volvacea and V. dispora are too edible mushrooms cultivated commercially.
Baking and brewing industries rely heavily on the utilizations of yeast (i.e., saccharomyces).The yeasts ferment sugar solution into alcohol and carbon-dioxide. Alcohol is utilized in brewing industry and CO2 in baking industry.
The ‘biochemical genetics’ that later developed into fascinating ‘molecular biology’ was founded by studies with Neurospora crassa, a fungus that even dethroned Drosophila from the Kingdom of genetics as this fungus was particularly suited for genetical analysis. Fungi such as Aspergillus and Neurospora continue to be significant organisms studied in the genetics.
Table: Fungal diseases
“Without fungi even death will not be complete” stated Pasteur. The dead cellulosic vegetation is decomposed into minerals and carbon by the saprotrophic fungi and such elements are returned to similar environment from where they were acquired. Therefore fungi sustain the mineral and carbon cycles in nature.
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