Chapter 1 : History and Importance to Human Affairs

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Scientifically, fungi are studied primarily for their impact on human affairs and for what they can tell us about fundamental biological principles. Fungi possess all the basic attributes of eukaryotes, including membrane-bound nuclei, chromatin, mitochondria, vacuoles, and cytoskeleton. While few fungi are obligate animal pathogens, some facultative species cause severe illness in humans, particularly in those who are immunocompromised. Among these are , , , and . Up-to-date research on these animal pathogens as well as several plant pathogens is presented in this chapter on filamentous fungi. In addition to their ability to cause disease, many fungi damage materials useful to mankind by invading stored foods, fabrics, lumber, cellulose, and even plaster and cement. Both fungi ( and the filamentous ) have served significantly in our understanding of vacuolar function and the role that this organelle plays in nitrogen and phosphate storage and amino acid metabolism. Since the earlier classical studies, fungal research has progressed rapidly with the advent of molecular biology. It is now possible to extract, manipulate, and amplify genes for reintroduction into most model fungi and thus determine cause and effect from genotype to phenotype. Research with the model species and provides unique opportunities for understanding how so many different versions of these genes function at the molecular level to detect compatible mates. This volume is a testament to the continuing robustness of fungal systems as a source of insight into all of the life sciences.

Citation: Bennett J, Davis R, Raper C. 2010. History and Importance to Human Affairs, p 3-7. In Borkovich K, Ebbole D (ed), Cellular and Molecular Biology of Filamentous Fungi. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816636.ch1
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