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Medical fungi update

In mycology, as elsewhere in biology, times have changed, species have changed and names have changed. From 1995 to now, molecular biology research has revolutionized our concepts about fungal species. Many organisms once thought to be single species are now known to be complexes of related species. Many groupings of species into genera have fallen apart, since research has shown that they are artificial. For example, the common opportunistic pathogen and indoor air mould Paecilomyces is split among three different families of fungi, and new names are being coined for several split-off groups.

The ‘bad news’ is that there are many new species and names to be learned, and many difficult questions about how to deal with closely related species that seem impossible to tell apart in the lab.

The good news is that most of the major medically and economically important fungi have now been analysed, and the end is in sight. The new knowledge will be very stable, since it is based on hard DNA data. It can be integrated into our regular practices with minimal disruption.

Learning outcomes

Following this course, participants will have knowledge of the following:

  • when is identification at full species level justified/necessary?
  • how should group-level identifications be reported?
  • when would DNA-based identification be needed?