The Negative Impact Of Fungi On Humans

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Fungi are eukaryotic, sporulating, heterotrophic organisms which acquire nutrients through absorption. Their vegetative bodies are made up of thalli and reproduce both asexually and sexually, although in some the sexual stage is not known. Various classes exist; basidiomycetes, ascomycetes, deuteromycetes, zygomycetes and oomycetes. The impact of fungi on humans cannot be underestimated. They play vital roles in the ecosystem, including the wellbeing of man. These roles can be beneficial or detrimental as discussed below.
Fungi are beneficial to man as normal flora, as, in medicine and production of pharmaceuticals, in agriculture and industrial applications as well as in biotechnology. Fungi are also significant
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These agents however have a residual effect besides contributing to environmental contamination. In an attempt to mitigate the negative effects of chemical pesticides and herbicides more individuals are warming up to the use of biocontrol agents; microorganisms that are natural enemies of other microorganisms. Entomopathogenic fungi such as Verticillium lecanii are now being commercially produced as bioinsecticides. Biocontrol entails mechanisms such as mycoparasitism, competition for resources, pathogenicity or allelopathy. This approach of weed and pest management offers a long-term solution as most biocontrol agents are species specific and persist in the environment with minimal interference of the natural…show more content…
Fungi are used in biotechnology as they are easy to culture and they occupy little space. They are widely used in production of enzymes through the recombinant DNA technology. A wide variety of enzymes have been produced by fungi. In the textile industry, catalases produced by A. niger and Penicillium species are used to treat and modify cotton fibers. Cellulases and xylanases from Trichoderma viride and T. reesei help in the tanning of leather finishing fabrics and making stonewashed jeans. An enzyme supplement BeanoTM used in cases of digestive discomfort is derived from α-galactosidase from Aspergillus terreus. Peroxidases and xylanases from Trametes and Phanerochaete are used in the bioleaching of cellulose in hardwood. Xylanases also break down the polysaccharide xylan. Lacase which is produced by many fungi is used in the making of paper. Enzymes are an alternative to harsh chemicals as they work under moderate conditions, reduce energy consumption and offer minimal risk both to humans and the environment. Vitamin B12 is synthesized by the fungus Ashbya gossipy. Lipases, peroxidases, oxidases together with protease enzymes are used in the manufacture of detergents and biosurfactants that are used as household detergents, industrial cleaners as well as in leather
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