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Fungi in human culture


Fungi play a variety of roles in human culture, both beneficial and harmful.

Yeasts have been used since ancient times to leaven bread and to ferment beer and wine. More recently, mould fungi have been exploited to create a wide range of industrial products, including enzymes and drugs. Medicines based on fungi include antibiotics, immunosuppressants, statins and many anti-cancer drugs. The yeast species Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an important model organism in cell biology. The fruiting bodies of some larger fungi are collected as edible mushrooms, including delicacies like the chanterelle, cep, and truffle, while a few species are cultivated. Mould fungi provide the meaty (umami) flavour of fermented soybean products such as tempeh, miso and soy sauce, and contribute flavour and colour to blue cheeses including Roquefort and Stilton. Moulds also yield vegetarian meat substitutes like Quorn. Some fungi, especially the fly agaric and psilocybin mushrooms are used for the psychoactive drugs that they contain; these in particular are the focus of academic study in the field of ethnomycology.



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Wikipedia

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