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  • Writer's pictureSinead Mackintosh


Fungi, we normally think of the edible mushrooms we put in our food, but the world of fungi is incredibly diverse. They come in all sorts of wonderful shapes and sizes, from the Humongous Fungus (definitely worth a Google) to minuscule fungi colonies. Fungi are a great model for genetic testing because they are so diverse and affect a variety of plant species that humans utilise. Pictured above is a Fusarium species of fungus that was isolated from grass in the Free State here in South Africa. The idea behind this experiment was to identify the exact species of fungus that caused the grass disease. So, by sampling, culturing and sequencing the fungus DNA you can identify the species. There are thousands of unknown species of fungi and their applications are endless. Currently fungi are used in pharmaceuticals, farming, fermented food production, pest control and bioremediation. Pest control and bioremediation are eco-friendlier and long-term programs to control disease outbreaks and clean up pollution. So, think about that next time you use button mushrooms in your salads, eat blue cheese or take antibiotics like penicillin!

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