What is a fungus?
Fungi is a microorganism which is a type of mold and is made up of microscopic filaments known as hyphae. When these filaments are grouped, they are known as mycelia. Fungi are one cell thick and can be both unicellular and multicellular which makes them ‘eukaryotic organisms.’ Certain pathogenic fungi are dimorphic which means it can live as yeast when it invades tissues but can also live as a mold when living in the environment.
Fungi are a member of a huge family and can grow in large masses and survive in extreme conditions. Fungi thrive in environments such as soil, land and plant matter, but is unlikely to grow in the sea. Fungi can reproduce sexually or asexually. Sexual reproduction can enable the next generation to benefit from both genetic makeups and allow it to adapt better to its surroundings. Asexual reproduction is beneficial to the fungi as it is quick, and it can make the most of small-time growth periods. The most common life cycle of the fungi starts when spores are released into the environment by the mature fungi, where they land, divide and grow into hyphae. The fungi grow until it eventually reaches its peak.
The most common types of fungi are mushrooms, yeast, and molds which are known as ‘good fungi.’ These fungi are used in bread, alcohol, and antibiotics – yeast being the simplest form. There are bad types of fungi which cause infections to humans such as athlete’s foot, thrush, ringworm, and fungal eye infections. Fungi do not usually cause harm to humans; however if an immune system is low, then infections can spread. Fungal infections are mostly caused by poor hygiene and the environment, or if someone is in contact with it every day. Fungal infections are easily treated with topical creams, oral drugs such as fluconazole or intravaginal by using pessaries. These infections are preventable by maintaining good personal and environmental hygiene and decontaminating surfaces/spaces.