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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A mushroom is a reproductive structure of a fungus.

Mycology (from the Greek μύκης, meaning "fungus") 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, medicinals (e.g., penicillin), food (e.g., beer, wine, cheese, edible mushrooms), entheogens, as well as their dangers, such as poisoning or infection. From mycology arose 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. A biologist who studies mycology is called a mycologist.

Historically, mycology was a branch of botany (fungi are evolutionarily more closely related to animals than to plants but this was not recognized until a few decades ago). Pioneer mycologists included Elias Magnus Fries, Christian Hendrik Persoon, Anton de Bary and Lewis David von Schweinitz.

Today, the most comprehensively studied and understood fungi are the yeasts and eukaryotic model organisms Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Schizosaccharomyces pombe.

Many fungi produce toxins, antibiotics, and other secondary metabolites. For example, the cosmopolitan (worldwide) genus Fusarium and their toxins associated with fatal outbreaks of alimentary toxic aleukia in humans were extensively studied by Abraham Joffe. Fungi are fundamental for life on earth in their roles as symbionts, e.g. in the form of mycorrhizae, insect symbionts and lichens, potency in breaking down complex organic biomolecules such as lignin, the more durable component of wood, and by playing a role in xenobiotics, a critical step in the global carbon cycle.

Fungi and other organisms traditionally recognized as fungi, such as oomycetes and myxomycetes (slime molds), often are economically and socially important as some cause diseases of animals (such as histoplasmosis) as well as plants (such as Dutch elm disease and Rice blast).

Field meetings to find interesting species of fungi are known as 'forays', after the first such meeting organized by the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club in 1868 and entitled "a foray among the fungi."

Some fungi can cause disease in humans or other organisms. The study of pathogenic fungi is referred to as medical mycology.[1]




Ancient and antiquity

Humans probably started collecting mushrooms as food already in prehistoric times. Mushrooms were first written about in the works of Euripides (480-406 B.C.). The Greek philosopher Theophrastos of Eressos (371-288 B.C.) was perhaps the first to try to systematically classify plants; mushrooms were considered to be plants that were missing certain organs. It was later Pliny the elder (23–79 A.D.), who wrote about truffles in his encyclopedia Naturalis historia.

Middle Ages

The Middle Ages saw little advancement in the body of knowledge about fungi. Rather, the invention of the printing press allows some authors to disseminate superstitions and misconceptions about the fungi that had been perpetuated by the classical authors.[2]

Fungi and truffles are neither herbs, nor roots, nor flowers, nor seeds, but merely the superfluous moisture or earth, of trees, or rotten wood, and of other rotting things. This is plain from the fact that all fungi and truffles, especially those that are used for eating, grow most commonly in thundery and wet weather.

—Jerome Bock (Hieronymus Tragus), 1552[3]

16th to 18th century

The start of the modern age of mycology begins with Pier Antonio Micheli's 1737 publication of Nova plantarum genera.[4] Published in Florence, this seminal work laid the foundations for the systematic classification of grasses, mosses, and fungi. The term mycology and the complimentary mycologist were first used in 1836 by M. J. Berkeley.[5]

19th century

20th century

See also


  1. ^ San-Blas G; Calderone RA (editors). (2008). Pathogenic Fungi. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-32-5 .  
  2. ^ Ainsworth, p. 13.
  3. ^ De stirpium maxime earum quae in Germania nostra nascuntur, usitatis nomenclaturis. Strasbourg. In Ainsworth, p. 13, quoting Buller, AHR. (1915). Micheli and the discovery of reproduction in fungi. Transactions of the royal Society of Canada, series 3 9: 1–25.
  4. ^ Ainsworth, p. 4.
  5. ^ Ainsworth, p. 2.


Ainsworth, G. C. (1976). Introduction to the History of Mycology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-21013-5.  

External links

Simple English

Mycology is the study of fungi (fungus). This includes their genetics, their biochemical properties (the chemical processes in them), their classification, their use to humans and their dangers (poisonous or infectious) . Fungi are a source of tinder (easily combustible material to light fires), medicines, food, and entheogens (a psychoactive substance). A biologist who sdudies mycology is called e mycologist.

Mycology is closely related to phytopathology (the study of plant diseases) because most plant diseases are caused by fungi. Historically, mycology was a branch of botany (plant biology). Now fungi are more closely related to animals than to plants.

Fungi are fundamental (essential) for life on earth: they're symbionts (an organism living in a mutually benefical relationship with another organism from a different species), they have potency in breaking sown complex organic biomolecules and they play a role in our global carbon cycle.


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