Mycology or mycology is the science, branch of Microbiology, responsible for studying fungi, heterotrophic organisms of varying dimensions and that can be parasites, saprophytes or decomposers. The term “mycology” has a Greek origin, where mikes means “mushroom” and logos , “study”. Fungi belong to their own kingdom, the Fungi Kingdom, and mycologists (mycologists or mycologists) study all the characteristics of these beings, taxonomy, systematics, morphology, physiology, biochemistry, utilities and the beneficial and harmful effects of fungal species.

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The history of Mycology

Mushrooms were first written in the works of Euripides (480-406 BC), and the Greek philosopher Teofrasto de Eresos (371-288 BC) was perhaps the first to try to classify plants: mushrooms were considered plants with the absence certain organs. During the Middle Ages, there was little progress in knowledge about fungi. Pier Antonio Micheli’s publication of Nova plantarum genera in 1737 marked the beginning of the modern era of Mycology. This work laid the foundation for the systematic classification of mosses, herbs and fungi. The words “mycology” and “mycologist” were first used in 1836, by MJ Berkeley.

The characteristics of fungi

Fungi are formed by hyphae, long and branched filaments that, together with other hyphae, form the stem of a fungus called mycelium. Other fungi, like yeasts, are single-celled beings and do not form hyphae. These organisms are bounded externally by a rigid membrane that contains hemicellulose and chitin. Reproduction takes place through different processes, which can be sexual, asexual and para-sexual.

Fungi are ubiquitous beings and can be found in water, soil, vegetables, animals and debris. They are classified into four divisions, namely: Zygomycota, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota and Deuteromycota.

The various areas of study of Mycology

Mycology studies each division that brings together the various fungi and, also, in the different areas in which they are used, such as in industry, in food, in agriculture and in medicine. In industry, fungi (yeasts mainly) are used as yeast in the production of alcoholic beverages and in the bakery and dairy industries.

In food, fungi are present in the manufacture of various food products, such as breads, cheeses, among others. In agriculture, fungi can act in association with the roots of some plants, forming mycorrhizae. In medicine, we highlight the discovery of penicillin, a powerful natural antibiotic, produced by a fungus.

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