Introduction to Medical Mycology and importance of Fungi

Fungi Infection MLT GEEKS

Mycology is the study of fungi though the term mycology is derived from the greek word “mykes” meaning mushroom.Mycology is the generalisation of fungi and represents one of the oldest discipline of microbiology.

Fungi are microorganisms in the domain Eukarya. Fungi show less differentiated than plants but has a higher degree of organization as compare to prokaryotes.The kingdom of fungi comprises of over 50000 to 200000 different known species but it is estimated that there are about 1.5 millions species of these organism.Only about 200 to 300 have been identified as human pathogen whereas only about a dozen of these pathogenic species causes 90% of all human mycoses.

Many of these mycotic infections are relatively harmless however the increasing numbers of patients with various kinds of immune defects have resulted in more life threatening mycoses.

Some differences between fungi and bacteria

PropertiesFungiBacteria
CytoplasmPresence of mitochondria
endoplasmic reticulum
posseses 80s ribosomes
Absence of mitochondria,Endoplasmic reticulum
Possesses 70s ribosomes
NucleusIt is eukaryotic
Presence of Nuclear membrane
More than one chromosome presentDivide by mitosis
It is prokaryotic
Absence of Nuclear membrane
Possesses only one chromosome
Cytoplasmic membranePresence of sterols (ergosterol)No sterols
Cell wallMade up of glucan,mannans,chitin and chitosanMade up of murein,teichoic acid (for gram positive bacteria),
protein
MetabolismIt is heterotrophic and mostly aerobes with no photosynthesisHeterotrophic,obligate aerobes and anaerobes.Also facultative anaerobes
SizeHas a mean diameter where yeast cells measure 3-5-10µm and mold is indefinableDiameter of 1 to 5 µm
DimorphismIn some speciesNot dimorphic

Importance of Fungi

Since fungi inhabit almost every niche in our environment(ubiquitous),human are exposed to these organism in various field of life.

Also read  Diagnostic Enzymology (How to calculate enzyme activity)

Beneficial effects of fungi

  • Fungi aid in decomposition of nutrients and recycle carbon
  • They are used in biosynthetic factories due to their fermentation property in industrial production of alcohols,fats,citric,oxalic and gluconic acids
  • They are also important sources of antibiotics such as penicillin
  • They serves as a model organisms for biochemical and genetic studies for examples Neurospora crassa and Saccharomyces cerevisiae are extensively used in recombinant DNA technology which include the Hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Some fungi serves as source of food like Mushroom,yeast which provide nutritional supplements such as vitamins and co-factors.
  • Penicillin is used to flavour roquefort and camembert cheese
  • Ergo produced by the species Claviceps purpurea contains medically important alkaloids that help in inducing uterine contractions,controlling bleeding and treating migraine.
  • Fungi like Leptolegnia caudate and Aphanomyces laevis are used to trap mosquito larvae in paddy fields helping in malaria control

Harmful effects of Fungi

  • Fungi causes destruction of food,lumber,cloth and paper
  • They diseases to plant and animal including human allergies
  • Toxins produced by poisonous mushrooms and within food (Mycetism and Mycotoxicosis)
  • Fungi are involved in spoilage of agricultural produce such as vegetables and cereals in warehouse.
  • Fungi are responsible for damaging products such as magnetic tapes and disks,glass lenses,bones,marbles statues and wax

General properties of fungi

  • They are eukaryotes that is cell contains membrane bound organelles including nucleus,mitochondria,golgi apparatus,endoplasmic reticulum,lysosome etc
  • They exhibit mitosis
  • Have ergosterols in their membranes and possesses 80s ribosomes.
  • They have a rigid cell walls
  • They are non motile
  • All fungi cell wall is made up of chitin
  • The require organic compounds for both carbon and energy sources(chemoheterotrophs) and lack chlorophyll hence not autotrophic
  • Fungi are osmotrophic that is they obtain their nutrients by absorption
  • They obtain nutrients as saprophytes that is live off of decaying matter or parasite that is live off of living matter
  • All fungi require water and oxygen and there are no obligate anaerobes
  • Typically,fungi reproduce asexually and or sexually by producing spores
  • They grow either reproductively by budding or non reproductively by hyphal tip elongation
  • Food storage in fungi is generally in the forms of glycogen and lipids

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About the Author: Arthur Westmann

DEFFE ARTHUR (AMOEBAMANN) is the founder and author of MLTGEEKS and MLTEXPO.He’s from Cameroon and is currently a Final year State Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT MA). Beyond lab works, he’s a passionate internet user with a keen interest in web design and blogging. Furthermore He likes traveling, hanging around with friends and social networking to do in his spare time.

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