Articles, Blog

31Global Warming and Fungal Diseases – Fungi

September 5, 2019

we think that the increased fungal diseases in humans is a consequence of global warming as I’ve just told you fungi our major pathogens of plants and insects and amphibians but there are not a lot of fungal diseases of humans however this is changing the end of the 20th century the number of human fungal diseases is going up this may be partly a consequence of medical interventions immunosuppressant for example we’re doing many many more organ transplants than we ever did before and to do that to make those successful we have to use immunosuppressive drugs so one reason for this increase is probably the increase in transplantation another reason is probably the onset of the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s so this is immunosuppressant people and causing fungal infections where they wouldn’t have had an infection before but another change probably has to do with the climate so humans of course are warm-blooded endotherm II refers to that fact fungi don’t like to grow at the temperatures of a human body and we think that’s part of the reason why human fungal infections are so infrequent so most of our resistance comes from our immune system and the fact that our temperature is too high for fungi but as you probably know we’re in a period of global climate change at the moment here’s a graph showing the temperature of the earth the mean temperature of the earth for many many many years up to the present so the main graph covers thousands of years and then the inset shows you 0 to 2000 AD so you can see that around 12 or 1300 there was an increase in temperature of a few degrees it then went down again and then in the 1990s the temperature started rising again and that’s the current status of our climate change so the temperature has gone up from about twelve and a half degrees average to over fourteen degrees we think this care characteristic is increasing human fungal disease it’s selecting for fungi that can grow at higher temperatures so just think the fungi grow in most parts of the world they usually at the bottom of the forest where it’s cooler but overall the temperature is rising so only the fungi that can grow at the high temperatures will survive so we’re selected for mutant fungi that can grow at higher temperatures and that is a fungus that will then invade humans so this is the theory at the moment that somehow climate change is resulting in more fungal infections of humans so I hope that by listening to this lecture on fungi you’ve learned about the two general types of fungi the yeasts and the filamentous fungi I hope you understand how yeast reproduce and what we use them for all the wonderful things we can make with yeasts I hope you’re familiar with the structure of filamentous fungi and what is a mycelium in a mushroom for example and finally you should know some of the diseases associated with fungi so you know they say in the world there are two kinds of people there are mushroom pickers and they’re mushroom kickers so I hope after this you’re a mushroom picker thank you see you next time

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