Mycology and its scientific use



Mycology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of fungi, including their genetic and biochemical properties, their taxonomy and their use to humans as a source for tinder, traditional medicine, food and entheogens, as well as their dangers, such as toxicity or infection. A biologist specializing in mycology is called a mycologist.

Mycology branches into the field of phytopathology, the study of plant diseases, and the two disciplines remain closely related because the vast majority of plant pathogens are fungi. Mycology also has important applications in the dairy, wine, and baking industries and in the production of dyes and inks. Medical mycology is the study of fungus organisms that cause disease in humans.

Agricultural mycology focuses on utilizing and controlling fungi in commercial crops. Toxicologists study mushroom and fungi for compounds which adversely affect other organisms. Pharmaceutical companies race to extract useful compounds from mushrooms. Careers in mycology are as diverse and complex as the field itself.

Mycology has expanded well beyond its origins in agriculture. Once it was realized how broad and diverse the fungi kingdom is, the various roles of fungi in society were better understood. For instance, cheese is produced by various fungi. Mycology can classify and understand these organisms, leading to better and more efficiently produced cheese and dairy products. Yeast is also a form of fungi, and understanding the process of fermentation carried out by yeast is a science in itself. Fermentation science degrees can found from the bachelor level up, and graduates can work in the brewing and distilling industries, creating beer, wines and liquor. Yeast is also used in bread making, and microbiologists are required to maintain the cultures to produce enough yeast for bread production.

Field of mycology

A specialized field of mycology is mycotoxicology, or the study of the toxins produced by mushrooms. Typically, a mycotoxicologist has a doctorate degree in biochemistry or organic chemistry, or a medical doctorate with concentrations in mycology and toxins. Fungi produce a variety of chemicals which have toxic effects on all kinds of organisms. Humans have eaten mushrooms since the earliest hunter-gatherers, but many mushrooms remain highly toxic. Other compounds found in mushrooms have potentially beneficial properties which could be used in medicine. Many mycotoxicologists work for pharmaceutical companies, trying to develop new drugs based on these compounds.

Mycology contains still more specializations, and is a continually evolving field. As more research is done, fungi are becoming a large and complex kingdom. Research is expanding and focusing on many special areas, including interesting applications for certain fungi. Some of these applications include radiotrophic fungi which appear to grow in the presence of radioactivity and could possibly alleviate radioactive wastes, and fungi which can break down complex organic substances into carbon dioxide. Many of these applications have tremendous commercial value, and researchers are needed at many institutions to explore these aspects of mycology.

The journal of “Medical Microbiology & Diagnosis” is a peer reviewed medical journal that includes a wide range of topics in this fields including Bacteriology, Clinical and Medical Diagnostics, Parasitology, Bacterial Infections and creates a platform for the authors to make their contribution towards the journal. The editorial office promises a thorough peer review of the submitted manuscripts to ensure quality.

Best Regards,

Mary Wilson,

Associate Managing Editor,

Medical Microbiology & Diagnosis