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Mushrooms are considered a kind of fungal reproductive organ.

Mycology is the branch of biology concerned with the study of fungi, including their taxonomy, genetics, biochemical properties, and use by humans. Fungi can be a source of tinder, food, traditional medicine, as well as entheogens, poison, and infection. Mycology branches into the field of phytopathology, the study of plant diseases. The two disciplines are closely related, because the vast majority of plant pathogens are fungi. A biologist specializing in mycology is called a mycologist.



Although mycology was historically considered a branch of botany, the 1969 discovery[1] of fungi's close evolutionary relationship to animals resulted in the study's reclassification as an independent field.[2] Pioneer mycologists included Elias Magnus Fries, Christiaan Hendrik Persoon, Heinrich Anton de Bary, Elizabeth Eaton Morse, and Lewis David de Schweinitz. Beatrix Potter, author of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, also made significant contributions to the field.[3]

Pier Andrea Saccardo developed a system for classifying the imperfect fungi by spore color and form, which became the primary system used before classification by DNA analysis. He is most famous for his Sylloge Fungorum,[4] which was a comprehensive list of all of the names that had been used for mushrooms. Sylloge is still the only work of this kind that was both comprehensive for the botanical kingdom Fungi and reasonably modern.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/371157855_What_mysteries_lay_in_spore_taxonomy_data_and_the_internationalization_of_mycology_in_Saccardo's_Sylloge_Fungorum

Many fungi produce toxins,[5] antibiotics,[6] and other secondary metabolites. For example, the cosmopolitan genus Fusarium and their toxins associated with fatal outbreaks of alimentary toxic aleukia in humans were extensively studied by Abraham Z. Joffe.[7]

Fungi are fundamental for life on earth in their roles as symbionts, e.g. in the form of mycorrhizae, insect symbionts, and lichens. Many fungi are able to break down complex organic biomolecules such as lignin, the more durable component of wood, and pollutants such as xenobiotics, petroleum, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. By decomposing these molecules, fungi play a critical role 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 (including humans) and of plants.[8]

Apart from pathogenic fungi, many fungal species are very important in controlling the plant diseases caused by different pathogens. For example, species of the filamentous fungal genus Trichoderma are considered one of the most important biological control agents as an alternative to chemical-based products for effective crop diseases management.[9]

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 funguses [sic]".[10]

Some fungi can cause disease in humans and other animals; the study of pathogenic fungi that infect animals is referred to as medical mycology.[11]



It is believed that humans started collecting mushrooms as food in prehistoric times. Mushrooms were first written about in the works of Euripides (480–406 BC). The Greek philosopher Theophrastos of Eresos (371–288 BC) was perhaps the first to try to systematically classify plants; mushrooms were considered to be plants missing certain organs. It was later Pliny the Elder (23–79 AD), who wrote about truffles in his encyclopedia Natural History.[12] The word mycology comes from the Ancient Greek: μύκης (mukēs), meaning "fungus" and the suffix -λογία (-logia), meaning "study".[13]

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[14]

The Middle Ages saw little advancement in the body of knowledge about fungi. However, the invention of the printing press allowed authors to dispel superstitions and misconceptions about the fungi that had been perpetuated by the classical authors.[15]

Group photograph taken at a meeting of the British Mycological Society in 1913

The start of the modern age of mycology begins with Pier Antonio Micheli's 1737 publication of Nova plantarum genera.[16] Published in Florence, this seminal work laid the foundations for the systematic classification of grasses, mosses and fungi. He originated the still current genus names Polyporus[17] and Tuber,[18] both dated 1729 (though the descriptions were later amended as invalid by modern rules).

The founding nomenclaturist Carl Linnaeus included fungi in his binomial naming system in 1753, where each type of organism has a two-word name consisting of a genus and species (whereas up to then organisms were often designated with Latin phrases containing many words).[19] He originated the scientific names of numerous well-known mushroom taxa, such as Boletus[20] and Agaricus,[21] which are still in use today. During this period, fungi were still considered to belong to the plant kingdom, so they were categorized in his Species Plantarum. Linnaeus' fungal taxa were not nearly as comprehensive as his plant taxa, however, grouping together all gilled mushrooms with a stem in genus Agaricus.[22][23] Thousands of gilled species exist, which were later divided into dozens of diverse genera; in its modern usage, Agaricus only refers to mushrooms closely related to the common shop mushroom, Agaricus bisporus.[24] For example, Linnaeus gave the name Agaricus deliciosus to the saffron milk-cap, but its current name is Lactarius deliciosus.[25] On the other hand, the field mushroom Agaricus campestris has kept the same name ever since Linnaeus's publication.[26] The English word "agaric" is still used for any gilled mushroom, which corresponds to Linnaeus's use of the word.[24]

The term mycology and the complementary term mycologist are traditionally attributed to M.J. Berkeley in 1836.[27] However, mycologist appeared in writings by English botanist Robert Kaye Greville as early as 1823 in reference to Schweinitz.[28]

Mycology and drug discovery


For centuries, certain mushrooms have been documented as a folk medicine in China, Japan, and Russia.[29] Although the use of mushrooms in folk medicine is centered largely on the Asian continent, people in other parts of the world like the Middle East, Poland, and Belarus have been documented using mushrooms for medicinal purposes.[30]

Mushrooms produce large amounts of vitamin D when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.[31] Penicillin, ciclosporin, griseofulvin, cephalosporin and psilocybin are examples of drugs that have been isolated from molds or other fungi.[32][33]

See also



  1. ^ Whittaker RH (10 January 1969). "New concepts of kingdoms of organisms: evolutionary relations are better represented by new classifications than by the traditional two kingdoms". Science. 163 (3863): 150–160. doi:10.1126/science.163.3863.150. PMID 5762760.
  2. ^ Woese CR, Kandler O, Wheelis ML (June 1990). "Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 87 (12): 4576–4579. Bibcode:1990PNAS...87.4576W. doi:10.1073/pnas.87.12.4576. PMC 54159. PMID 2112744.
  3. ^ Casadevall A, Kontoyiannis DP, Robert V (July 2019). "On the Emergence of Candida auris: Climate Change, Azoles, Swamps, and Birds". mBio. 10 (4): 1786–1787. doi:10.3201/eid2509.ac2509. PMC 6711238. PMID 31337723.
  4. ^ Saccardo, P. A.; Saccardo, P. A.; Traverso, G. B.; Trotter, A. (1882). Sylloge fungorum omnium hucusque cognitorum. Patavii: sumptibus auctoris. Archived from the original on 2023-06-26. Retrieved 2024-01-25.
  5. ^ Wilson BJ (1971). Ciegler A, Kadis S, Ajl SJ (eds.). Microbial Toxins, Vol. VI Fungal Toxins. New York: Academic Press. p. 251.
  6. ^ Brian PW (1951). "Antibiotics produced by fungi". The Botanical Review. 17 (6): 357–430. Bibcode:1951BotRv..17..357B. doi:10.1007/BF02879038. ISSN 0006-8101. S2CID 7772971.
  7. ^ E.g. Joffe AZ, Yagen B (1978). "Intoxication produced by toxic fungi Fusarium poae and F. sporotrichioides on chicks". Toxicon. 16 (3): 263–273. Bibcode:1978Txcn...16..263J. doi:10.1016/0041-0101(78)90087-9. PMID 653754.
  8. ^ De Lucca AJ (March 2007). "Harmful fungi in both agriculture and medicine". Revista Iberoamericana de Micologia. 24 (1): 3–13. PMID 17592884.
  9. ^ Ruano-Rosa, David; Prieto, Pilar; Rincón, Ana María; Gómez-Rodríguez, María Victoria; Valderrama, Raquel; Barroso, Juan Bautista; Mercado-Blanco, Jesús (2016-06-01). "Fate of Trichoderma harzianum in the olive rhizosphere: time course of the root colonization process and interaction with the fungal pathogen Verticillium dahliae". BioControl. 61 (3): 269–282. Bibcode:2016BioCo..61..269R. doi:10.1007/s10526-015-9706-z. ISSN 1573-8248.
  10. ^ Anon (1868). "A foray among the funguses". Transactions of the Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club. 1868. Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club.: 184–192. Archived from the original on 2018-11-06. Retrieved 2018-01-14.
  11. ^ San-Blas G, Calderone RA, eds. (2008). Pathogenic Fungi. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-32-5. Archived from the original on 2014-11-22. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
  12. ^ Pliny the Elder. "Book 19, Chapter 11" [Natural History]. www.perseus.tufts.edu. Archived from the original on April 4, 2022. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  13. ^ Henry A (1861). A Glossary of Scientific Terms for general use. p. 131.
  14. ^ De stirpium maxime earum quae in Germania nostra nascuntur, usitatis nomenclaturis. Strasbourg. In Ainsworth 1976, p. 13 quoting Buller AH (1915). "Micheli and the discovery of reproduction in fungi". Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada. 3. 9: 1–25.
  15. ^ Ainsworth 1976, p. 13.
  16. ^ Ainsworth 1976, p. 4.
  17. ^ "the Polyporus P. Micheli page". www.indexfungorum.org. Archived from the original on 2023-10-04. Retrieved 2024-06-12.
  18. ^ "the Tuber P. Micheli page". www.indexfungorum.org. Archived from the original on 2023-07-15. Retrieved 2024-06-12.
  19. ^ Kibby, Geoffrey (2017). Mushrooms and Toadstools of Britain & Europe. Geoffrey Kibby. pp. 14–15. ISBN 978-0-9572094-2-8.
  20. ^ "the Boletus L. page". www.indexfungorum.org. Archived from the original on 2023-11-11. Retrieved 2024-06-12.
  21. ^ "the Agaricus L. page". www.indexfungorum.org. Retrieved 2024-06-12.
  22. ^ "Home". fmhibd.library.cmu.edu. Archived from the original on 2018-07-12. Retrieved 2024-06-12.
  23. ^ Linné, Carl von; Linné, Carl von; Salvius, Lars (1753). Caroli Linnaei ... Species plantarum :exhibentes plantas rite cognitas, ad genera relatas, cum differentiis specificis, nominibus trivialibus, synonymis selectis, locis natalibus, secundum systema sexuale digestas... Vol. 2 (1st ed.). Holmiae: Impensis Laurentii Salvii. p. 1171. Archived from the original on 2020-05-06. Retrieved 2020-07-16.
  24. ^ a b Læssøe, Thomas; Petersen, Jens Henrik (2019-10-22). Fungi of Temperate Europe. Princeton University Press. p. 500. ISBN 978-0-691-18037-3. Archived from the original on 2024-06-12. Retrieved 2024-06-12. Page 8 defines the word "agaric" and page 500 gives the modern definition of Agaricus
  25. ^ "the Agaricus deliciosus L. page". www.speciesfungorum.org. Archived from the original on 2023-12-01. Retrieved 2024-06-12.
  26. ^ "the Agaricus campestris L. page". www.speciesfungorum.org. Archived from the original on 2023-11-16. Retrieved 2024-06-12.
  27. ^ Ainsworth 1976, p. 2.
  28. ^ Greville, Robert Kaye (April 1823). "Observations on a New Genus of Plants, belonging to the Natural Order Gastromyci". The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal. 8 (16): 257.
  29. ^ Sullivan, Richard. Medicinal Mushrooms: Their therapeutic properties and current medical usage with special emphasis on cancer treatments. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2023-07-29. Retrieved 2024-06-12.
  30. ^ Shashkina, M. Ya.; Shashkin, P. N.; Sergeev, A. V. (2006-10-01). "Chemical and medicobiological properties of chaga (review)". Pharmaceutical Chemistry Journal. 40 (10): 560–568. doi:10.1007/s11094-006-0194-4. ISSN 1573-9031. Archived from the original on 2024-06-12. Retrieved 2024-06-12.
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  32. ^ "Fungal Bioactive Metabolites of Pharmacological Relevance | Frontiers Research Topic". www.frontiersin.org. Archived from the original on 2023-02-26. Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  33. ^ "Aspergillus alliaceus - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics". www.sciencedirect.com. Archived from the original on 2023-07-09. Retrieved 2021-02-01.

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