Mycology is the branch of
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

concerned with the study of
fungi A fungus (plural: fungi or funguses) is any member of the group of Eukaryote, eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and Mold (fungus), molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as ...

, including their
biochemical Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical processes within and relating to living organisms. A sub-discipline of both chemistry and biology, biochemistry may be divided into three fields: structural biology, enzymology and ...

properties, their
taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
and their use to humans as a source for tinder, traditional medicine, Edible mushroom, food, and entheogens, as well as their dangers, such as poison, toxicity or fungal infection, infection. A biologist specializing in mycology is called a mycologist. Mycology branches into 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.


Historically, mycology was a branch of botany because, although fungi are evolutionarily more closely related to Animal, animals than to plants, this was not recognized until a few decades ago. Pioneer ''mycologists'' included Elias Magnus Fries, Christian Hendrik Persoon, Anton de Bary, Elizabeth Eaton Morse, Lewis David von Schweinitz. Pier Andrea Saccardo ''developed a system for classifying the Deuteromycota, imperfect fungi by spore color and form, which became the primary system used before classification by Genetic fingerprinting, DNA analysis. He is most famous for his Sylloge, which was a comprehensive list of all of the Binomial nomenclature, names that had been used for mushrooms.  Sylloge is still the only work of this kind that was both comprehensive for the Kingdom (biology), botanical kingdom Fungus, Fungi and reasonably modern.'' Many fungi produce toxins, antibiotics, and other secondary metabolism, secondary metabolites. For example, the cosmopolitan distribution, cosmopolitan (worldwide) genus ''Fusarium'' and their toxins associated with fatal outbreaks of alimentary toxic aleukia in humans were extensively studied by Abraham Joffe.E.g. Fungi are fundamental for life on earth in their roles as symbiosis, symbionts, e.g. in the form of mycorrhizae, insect symbionts, and lichens. Many fungi are able to break down complex organic compound, 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 Fungal disease, cause diseases of animals (including humans) and of plants. 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. 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'']. Some fungi can cause disease in humans and other animals - The study of pathogenic fungi that infect animals is referred to as pathogenic fungi, medical mycology.


It is believed that humans started Mushroom hunting, 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 (Pliny), Naturalis historia''. The word ''mycology'' comes from the Greek language, Ancient Greek: wikt:μύκης, μύκης (''mukēs''), meaning "fungus" and the suffix (''-logia''), meaning "study". 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. The start of the modern age of mycology begins with Pier Antonio Micheli's 1737 publication of ''Nova plantarum genera''. Published in Florence, this seminal work laid the foundations for the systematic classification (biology), classification of grasses, mosses and fungi. He originated the still current genus names Polyporus, ''Polyporus'' P. Micheli and Tuber (fungus), ''Tuber'' P. Micheli, both dated 1729 (though the descriptions were later amended as invalid by modern rules). Note that when referring to the scientific name of a genus, the author abbreviation can optionally be added afterwards. The founding Binomial nomenclature, nomenclaturist Carl Linnaeus included fungi in his "binomial" naming system of 1753, where each type of organism has a two-word name consisting of the "genus" and the "species" (whereas up to then organisms were often designated with Latin phrases containing many words). He originated the scientific names, still used today, of numerous well-known mushroom taxa, such as Boletus, ''Boletus'' L. and Agaricus, ''Agaricus'' L.. At that period fungi were considered to belong to the plant kingdom, and so they find their place in his magnum opus ''Species Plantarum'', but he was much more interested in higher plants and for instance he grouped together as genus ''Agaricus'' all gilled mushrooms which have a stem. There are many thousands of such gilled species, which later were divided into dozens of diverse genera and in its modern usage the genus ''Agaricus'' only refers to mushrooms closely related to the common shop mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, ''Agaricus bisporus'' (J.E. Lange) Imbach. As an example, Linnaeus gave the name ''Agaricus deliciosus'' to the saffron milk-cap, but its current name is Lactarius deliciosus, ''Lactarius deliciosus'' (L.) Gray. On the other hand the field mushroom Agaricus campestris, ''Agaricus campestris'' L. has kept the same name ever since Linnaeus's publication. The English word "agaric" is still used for any gilled mushroom, which corresponds to Linnaeus's sense of the word. The term ''mycology'' and the complementary term ''mycologist'' were first used in 1836 by Miles Joseph Berkeley, M.J. Berkeley.

Mycology and drug discovery

For centuries, certain mushrooms have been documented as a Traditional medicine, folk medicine in China, Japan, and Russia. 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. Mushrooms produce large amounts of vitamin D when exposed to Ultraviolet, ultraviolet (UV) light. Penicillin, ciclosporin, griseofulvin, cephalosporin and psilocybin are examples of drugs that have been isolated from Mold (fungus), molds or other fungi.

See also

* Ethnomycology * Fungal biochemical test * List of mycologists * List of mycology journals * Marine fungi * Mushroom hunting * Mycotoxicology * Pathogenic fungi * Protistology


Cited literature


External links

* Professional organizations ** British Mycological Society, BMS
British Mycological Society
(United Kingdom) ** Mycological Society of America, MSA
Mycological Society of America
(North America) * Amateur organizations ** Mycological Society of San Francisco, MSSF
Mycological Society of San Francisco

(list of amateur organizations in North America) *
Puget Sound Mycological Society
Oregon Mycological Society
** Illinois Mycological Association, IMA]
Illinois Mycological Association
* Miscellaneous links *
Online lectures in mycology
University of South Carolina *
The WWW Virtual Library: Mycology


FUNGI Magazine
for professionals and amateurs - largest circulating U.S. publication concerning all things mycological] *
Fungal Cell Biology Group
at University of Edinburgh, UK. *
Mycological Marvels
Cornell University, Mann Library {{Authority control Mycology, Branches of biology