[Name of the Author] [Name of the Instructor] [Course name] [Date] Fungi and Medicine Fungi appear to be similar to plants and this is the reason why fungi were initially classified under Plant kingdom. A detailed research on these organisms however indicated that they resemble more to animals but are still unique and hence the Kingdom Fungi was formed…
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Fungi play an important role in the ecology as their presence determines the types of plants and hence the types of animals that can live in a biological community. Fungi do not contain chlorophyll hence they cannot photosynthesize and so they are consumers in the food chain. Many fungi follow saprophytic nutrition meaning that they secrete extracellular enzymes to carry out digestion while other fungi like tinea that causes ‘Athlete’s foot’ are parasitic in nature. Fungi exist as mycelium which is actually a network of tiny thread-like filaments known as hyphae. The mushroom is the fruiting body or the reproductive part of the fungi. Sexual and asexual reproduction, both are found equally in the Kingdom fungi. In addition to its vital importance in ecology, it plays an essential role in the lives of humans. Fungi find applications in our daily lives, for example in the fermentation of beer and in the making of pizza dough. Fungi are also key decomposers in the food chain and are therefore essential for the biodegradation of dead animals and plants, returning nutrients back to the soil. However the most important role of fungi is in its use in medicine. Huge amount of antibiotics, derived from fungi are produced annually (Kendrick). Use of Fungi in Medicine: Penicillin was one of the first antibiotics to be developed from fungi. It was extracted by Alexander Fleming from the secretions of a fungus, ‘Penicillium’. Penicillin was considered a miracle drug after its discovery as it provided cure to a wide range of previously incurable diseases. It is still widely used in the production of a variety of effective antibiotics and has saved millions of lived since its discovery. Penicillin works by interfering with the ability of bacteria to develop new cell walls. Bacteria reproduce by cell division and since the creation of cell wall is inhibited, cell division does not take place and new daughter cells cannot be produced. This greatly reduces the reproduction potential of the bacteria and the bacteria only increases in length without dividing which weakens the protective cell wall and gradually the bacterial population dies. Nowadays research is being done in genetic modification of some types of fungi to prevent the spread of vector-transmitted diseases such as malaria. Experiments have been done by using transgenic fungus and using it to infect mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite. The fungi have their genes modified by having the gene of the human malarial antibody injected into them. The results have showed that these fungi are extremely effective in eradicating the parasite and can lower incidents of malarial infection. Further research is being done on this so that possible resistance among the mosquitoes does not occur and optimization against the malarial pathogen is achieved (Fungi Developed to Fight Malaria in Mosquitoes). Genetic modification of fungi is also taking place to produce naturally occurring drugs. Taxol is a naturally occurring drug which is derived from the yew tree however the tree needs to be cut down for the drug extraction. In addition the yield of the Drug is very low. To solve this problem, the genes of fungi are now being modified so that they can yield the naturally occurring drugs like Taxol at a faster rate (Law). Organ transplants in recent past were very difficult to perform and used to pose a major threat of death to the patient if the immune system
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