Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Many fungi also produce biologically active compounds that are useful in manufacturing.

Many fungi also produce biologically active compounds that are useful in manufacturing. These compounds include alcohols—such as ethanol and glycerol produced during fermentation—and plant growth regulators—such as giberellic acid, which is used in the promotion of plant and fruit development. Fungi are extremely important in the production of antibiotics; for example, penicillin, griseofulvin, cyclosporine, and cephalosporin are used to fight bacterial and fungal diseases worldwide.Fungi are becoming an increasingly important tool in cleaning the environment.

The accumulation of pesticides and other chemicals in the environment is destroying many ecosystems, and placing many animal and plant species at risk. A number of fungi are used in bioremediation, in which the fungi are mixed with polluted water or soil, where they decompose the organic material in pollutants and, in the process, detoxify them. Fungi employed in this effort include many that are commonly found in soils, such as Aspergillus, Fusarium, Rhizopus, Mucor, Penicillium, and Trichoderma. Fungi also have been used successfully to control insects, fungus pathogens, roundworms, and other organisms that cause damage and disease to agricultural crops.
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