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Lecture 22

BIO 201 Lecture 22: Fungi: medical and ecological importance

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BIO 201
John Trueand Ross Nehm

Lecture 22: Fungi Fungi • Phylogeny: what are they? • Importance to humans • Anatomy: cells and morphology • Ecology: recycling of living (and dead) things; roots Fungi are more closely related to animals than plants Fungi in Evolutionary Context: 3 domains, Fungi are in Eukarya How Fungi changed the course of human history • Penicillin was first discovered by accident (1920s)—it is an antibiotic secreted by the fungus Penicillium. • Antibiotics (1945 or so) became crucial for treating widespread bacterial infections such as gangrene, tuberculosis, and syphilis. Fungi friends: Antibiotic resistance • Many antibiotics are losing their effectiveness as pathogenic bacteria evolve resistance to them • Recently, 3 new classes of antibiotics have been synthesized based on fungal-derived antibiotics, leading to improved treatment of some formerly resistant strain of bacteria Foe: Fungal aflatoxins • ~25% of the world’s food crops are affected by aflatoxins (fungal toxin) • 4.5 billion people are exposed (primarily in developing countries). In sub-Saharan African alone, an estimated 26,000 people die annually of liver cancer associated with aflatoxin exposure • US $1.2 billion in commerce is lost annually to aflatoxin. African economies lose about $450 million worth of crops to it each year. – Sources: UN Food and Agricultural Organiza7on (FAO), IRIN Fungal Anatomy Fungal Morphology and Growth A mushroom is most equivalent to a flower Cellular Composition: Unicellular or Multicellular • Yeasts: unicellular, free-living fungi • The term does not refer to a taxonomic group but rather to a lifestyle that has evolved multiple times • Yeasts live in liquid or moist environments and absorb nutrients directly across cell surfaces (no hyphae) Types of Groups: Monophyletic, Paraphyletic, and Polyphyletic Fungal Ecology: • Digest their food outside their bodies (secreting digestive enzymes, then absorb the breakdown products (absorptive heterotrophy)) • Many are saprobes (absorb nutrients from dead organic matter); still others are mutualists • Large surface area- lose water easily • Ultimate recycling machines Ecology: Living in Temperature Extremes • Many fungi tolerate temperature extremes, as low as -6 degrees Celsius, and some tolerate temperatures above 50 degrees Celsius • Fungi consuming bread via absorptive heterotrophy Fungi: Fungi and the Carbon Cycle • Fungi
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