Fungi include many species which are of economic importance to man our lives are linked with Fungi. We are harmed and benefited by Fungi directly or indirectly. Some account for beneficial and harmful activities of Fungi is as under:
Useful activities of Fungi:
(1) Destruction of organic waste: Saprophytic Fungi decompose plant and animal remains by acting as natural scavengers. Carbon dioxide released in the process is used by green plants. By some workers saprophytic Fungi have been designated as vegetative vultures.
(2) In Industry:
(A) Many fungi are used in the commercial preparation of many organic acids and some vitamin preparation. Aspergillus miger, A. glaucus, A. clavatus, citronyces citricus have been recommended for preparation citric acid. Many fungi also prepare gluconic acid lactic acid.
Aspergillus and Fusaruim are source riboflavin, a constituent of vitamin B. Yeasts are also rich in vitamin B.
(B) Recently Fungi have been founded to be the basis of entire alcoholic industry. The basis of alcoholic industry is production of ethyl alcohol by fermentation of sugar solutions by yeast. Yeasts are source of complex enzyme zymase which is responsible for the process of fermentation. Yeasts are used in making wines, bear and ciders.
(C) Certain yeasts Saccharamyces cerevisiaes form important basis of baking industries.
(D) Some fungi such as species of Penicillium are used in preparation of certain cheese.
(3) As food: Many fungi like mushroom (Agaricus), Puffballs (Lycoperdon), Morels (Morchella) are edible. They are important as protein sources. They are regarded as delicacies of table.
Large scale production of yeast is used in conversion of carbohydrates and in organic nitrogen salts in to edible and nutritional forms. Yeast food supplies a number of vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, micotomic acid, Panthothenic acid, biotin etc. Yeast food is there fore supplement of human food requirements.
(4) In Medicines or Medicinal value: Recently many fungi have been founded to be responsible for producing certain antibiotic drugs which inhibit the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms. Some medicines formed from Fungi are Penicillin to kill bacteria that cause Pnemonia streptomycin. Auroemoycin, chloromycetin and Ephedrine from yeast.
(5) In plastic manufacture: Certain Fungi like odium lactis is widely used in plastic industry.
(6) Control and insect pest: Many Fungi like Ascherronia deyroides, Isaria ferinosa, Empusa sepulchralis help in controlling the infection of insect pests of the plants.
(7) Phytohormone or Auxins: Many growth promoting substances like Gibberellins are synthesized from the fungi like Fusarium maniforma and Dematium pullulans.
(8) Nutrition of plant: Many members of Phycomycetes, Ascomycetes, Basidiomycetes and fungi imerfecii are involved in the formation of mycorrhizae which are of fundamental importance in nutrition of tree like Cycas, Zamia and Pinus.
Fungi cause diseases to human, animals and plants. They cause destruction to clothes, paper, jute, leather, rubber, Paints, petroleum products, good grains and other bakery products. Harmful effects are:
(1) Many fungi cause very much loss to our timber trees by causing wood rot. Armillaria mellea, the honey mushroom causes red rot of apple and many forest trees. Many species of Polypores attack forest trees causing wood rot.
(2) Some would fungi like Rhizopus, Mucor, Aspergillus spoil our food. Their spores are always in the air and settle down on exposed jams, pickles, jelly, bread and fruits and develop mycelia and make food articles unfit for human use.
(3) Some parasitic fungi are causative agents of diseased of our cops, fruits and other economic plants. In them fungi like Puccimia and ustilago cause rusts and smuts. They are great enemies of crops and cause loss by reducing crop yield. The rusts reproduce yellow, orange or black pustules on the stem and leaves of cereal plants while smuts attack forests and produces a black powdery mass of smut spores in the place of seed and fruits. Damage caused to cereals (wheat, maize, oat and barley) by rust and smuts amounts to several hundred millions of rupees annually. Fungi diseases in plants are:
(i) While rust of crucifers by crystopus cindidus.
(ii) Powdery mildew by Erisiphae species.
(iii) Fruit root of apple by Rhizopus arrhizus.
(iv) Late blight of Potato by Phytopora infestans.
(v) Red rot of sugar came by colletorichum falcatum.
(vi) Some parasitic fungi cause diseases to animals.
Saprolegnia which occurs as saprophyte on dead fish or flies behave as facultative parasite producing serious diseases to crops and gold fishes.
(4) Some fungi are also cause some important diseases in human beings. Asperigillus as A.miger, A.fiavus, A.fumigatus are common human pathogens. Disease caused in aspergilloses of lungs and ears. Some parasitic fungi live in mucous membrane of throad, bronchii and lungs. Few fungi cause skin discoloration. A well known skin disease rung worm or “Dead” is also a fungus disease.