Most people shudder at the mere mention of fungi. ‘Yuck!’ and ‘eww’ are some of the expressions that these growths usually evoke. Fungi rot our food and furniture, kill our plants and even sometimes grow on us. However, without fungi, the terrestrial ecosystems of planet Earth would not work. Fungi play a big role in the green world because they help break things down. Some types of fungi such as mushrooms even make for delicious food. In fact, they are so important that there is an entire branch of science dedicated to their study. It is called mycology. Mycologists or fungal scientists study fungi including mushrooms, moulds, truffles, yeasts and lichens, found in plants, animals and humans. So far, about 70,000 species of fungi have been discovered, but it is estimated that there are at least 1.5 million species not yet been found! So, if you interested in plant science, the field of mycology can opens doors to a wide of exciting and rewarding careers.
How it works
Mycologists may study mushrooms exclusively or other forms of fungi that can cause problems for humans, plants and animals. Mycologists are also able to determine which fungi are poisonous. Because of this skill set they can offer their assistance to forensic departments as well as the food industry.
Mycologists can find work in many areas. The importance of fungi in crop growth, plant disease and fermentation means there are jobs available and the food industry. The unique properties of fungi offer many other industrial applications such as detoxifying polluted land while knowledge of medicinal mycology is useful in the pharmaceutical sector. Often mycology also helps police is solving crimes by working with the forensics team. Mycologists are also hired by botanical gardens.
- Interest in fungi
- Analytical, problem-solving and mathematical skills
- Ability to interpret complex scientific data
- Medical Mycology: Finding and studying fungi that causes diseases in humans.
- Taxonomy: Naming, describing and classifying new and unknown fungi.
- Food Mycology: Examining fungi that cause food to go bad.
- Plant Pathology: Studying and controlling fungal diseases in plants.
- Industrial Mycology: Looking at the ways in which fungi can help in fermentation.
What to study:
There are no undergraduate courses in mycology, so most mycologists begin by earning a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Biology, Botany or Microbiology.
- Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore: Mycology is taught in the third semester as part of B.Sc Microbiology.
- Shri Guru Gobind Singh University, Delhi-NCR: Mycology, Phycology and Virology are part of the first year syllabus for B.Sc Microbiology.
- Allahabad State UNIVERSITY, Uttar Pradesh: M.Sc Mycology and Plant Pathology.
- Birsa Agricultural University, Jharkhand: M.Sc Mycology and Plant Pathology.
- University of Madras, Guindy Campus, Chennai: B.Sc Plant Biology and Plant Biotechnology.
- School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, the U.K.: B.Sc in Biological Sciences (Mycology)
- University of California, Berkeley, the U.S.: Postgraduate courses in Forest Pathology and Mycology.
- Imperial College, London, the U.K.: Research opportunities in different fields of Mycology.
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