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Chapter 1 : Introduction
This is an introductory chapter to the book Aspergillus fumigatus and Aspergillosis. Fast forwarding to the present, one can now recognize aspergillosis as afflicting 10 to 15% of patients with solid organ or allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplants and of leukemic patients, and it is also not an uncommon infection in advanced AIDS. While infections due to the other major opportunistic group of fungi, Candida species, have reached a plateau, the infection rate due to Aspergillus species keeps rising. Moreover, Aspergillus pathogenicity is currently recognized in intensive care patients who are not immunocompromised in the classic senses of neutropenia or neutrophil dysfunction or having received cytotoxic or immunosuppressive therapy. Biomedical scientists and physicians have now had to make large investments in the effort to respond to this rising wave of cases, tragic waste of lives, and burden of health care costs. Appreciation of patterns in imaging with newer radiographic techniques and/or detection of galactomannan, glucan, or DNA by PCR in samples of blood or other body fluids has brought one to the position of being able to use one's therapeutic armory at a more opportune, early time in a patient’s infection. The chapter provides an insight into what follows in this volume - expositions, by current leaders, of the present knowledge. They tell us of our present understanding of the structure of the taxon, the methods of reproduction and growth, and its genes and how they are expressed in metabolism and development.