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Economic Importance of Fungi

Role in Medicine

  • Ø  The broad economic importance of fungi exists in the medical industry for curing diseases in humans and animals. 

  • Ø  The most important species are Penicillium notatum, Claviceps purpurea, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Aspergillus proliferous etc.

  • Ø  The first and great antibiotic drug Penicillin is obtained from Penicillium notatum. Streptomycin is obtained from Streptomyces griseus.

  • Ø  The giant puff ball Calvatia eating prevents stomach tumours.


Role in Agriculture

  • Ø  When it comes to agriculture, fungi have both negative and favourable consequences. It has the potential to induce a variety of diseases, but it also has the potential to operate as a pesticide.

  • Ø  Some fungi cause fungal diseases in plants and animals, which results in a tremendous loss. Damping off, Late blight of potato, Early blight of potato, Downy mildews of grapes, Ergot of rye, Apple scab etc., are serious diseases caused by fungi.

  • Ø  In addition to having a harmful impact on the environment, they also provide numerous advantages in the agricultural industry. The benefits include the prevention and treatment of many diseases, the preservation of soil fertility by functioning as a decomposer.

  • Ø   Mycorrhizal fungi are an essential element in the growth of plants.

  • Ø  Fungi aid in balancing the nutrition cycle of the environment.

Role in Human Life

  • Ø  Fungi provide nutrition to human beings in the form of mushrooms.

  • Ø  Mushrooms, also called 'white vegetables' or 'boneless vegetarian meat'. Mushrooms contain protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.

  • Ø  Some mushrooms are poisonous in nature e.g., Amanita phalloides, Amainita muscaria, Agaricus xanthoderma.

  • Ø  Genus Neurospora has become a good research material for genetical studies.


Role in Food Industry

  • Ø  Alcoholic fermentation: The enzyme zymase of microorganisms like yeast is responsible for alcohol production. Wines are produced from grapes or other fruits by Saccharomyces ellipsoideus with about 14% alcohol concentration. Beer is brewed from barley malt by Saccharomyces cerevisiae with 3-8% alcohol production. The fungal pathogen Aspergillus flavus is employed in the manufacturing of African indigenous beer.

  • Ø  Food production:  During alcoholic fermentation by yeast, CO2 being released as bubbles are used in baking industry to make the breads and cakes as spongy in appearance.

  • Ø  Enzyme preparation: Saccharomyces cerevisiae is used to make invertase and it has a wide range of industrial applications. Digestin, Polyzime are products of high enzymic activity obtained from Aspergillus flavus-oryzae.

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