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Fungi the cause of many outbreaks of disease but mostly ignored
Date:7/1/2008

nt, fungi are not seen as a liability but as an integral part of their ecosystems They break down dead plants and animals (organic matter) into the building blocks plants need for growth and they engage in beneficial symbiotic relationships with plants, all functions necessary for maintaining healthy ecosystems. When an ecosystem is disturbed, fungi can behave in unexpected and often destructive ways, as in the case of the black mold that is overrunning the areas surrounding the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine and outbreaks of coral bleaching that are destroying coral reefs. Scientists still do not understand fungi well enough to predict how these organisms will behave when their environment is disturbed.

Industry and food manufacturing benefit in many ways from the work fungi do. "Fungi are workhorses for research and biotechnology," according to Joseph Heitman of the Duke University Medical Center, the other co-chair of the colloquium. "Both the hepatitis B vaccine and Gardasil (the vaccine for papilloma virus) are produced in yeast," he notes.

The importance of fungi to human health, agriculture, the environment, and industry demands that we gain a better understanding of these organisms. Some of the report's key recommendations include:

  • Evaluate the Impacts of Mold in Homes and Businesses

    There is a serious lack of scientific data to support any stance with respect to indoor mold toxicity or remediation. More effort should be devoted to testing and long-term monitoring of mold contamination and human health in New Orleans and other areas flooded by Hurricane Katrina. Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina provide natural laboratories for understanding how fungi respond to disturbance and the subsequent impacts they have on human health.

  • Create a Fungal Genomes Database

    Researchers involved with fungi must focus efforts on developing a comprehensive fungal genomics database in order to m
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Contact: Jim Sliwa
jsliwa@asmusa.org
202-942-9297
American Society for Microbiology
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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