Molds, Mushrooms, and Mycotoxins


Clyde M. Christensen

As Professor Christensen has made evident in his earlier books, including The Molds and Man, fungi are significantly interesting in their life-styles and in the many ways in which they affect man. Here he continues his exploration of the lives of the fungi and their relation to man, focusing on the harmful or dangerous effects which certain molds, mushrooms, and other fungi can have on human beings.

The first several chapters deal with fungi that are toxic in one way or another: either the fungi themselves are toxic when consumed, as with poisonous mushrooms and ergot, or the fungi secrete toxic compounds that diffuse into the substance on which they grow, making that substance toxic when eaten. He discusses hallucinogenic as well as poisonous mushrooms and provides extensive information about mycotoxins in human and animal foods, which are recently discovered health hazards.

Other chapters deal with fungus spores, which are a major cause of respiratory allergies, and with fungi which are predators or parasites of insects and nematodes. A chapter is devoted to fungus infections of man and animals, which at times constitute a serious public health problem. Another chapter discusses the nature, cause, and prevention of wood decay in trees and buildings. In a final chapter the author discusses some aspects of organic evolution in general as a background for presenting theories and facts on the evolution of fungi. He summarizes some of the ways in which fungi enter into our lives and economy, and looks to the role of fungi in the future.

The illustrations, in both black and white and color, show some of the fungi and processes that are discussed.

Clyde M. Christensen was Regents’ Professor of plant pathology at the University of Minnesota and the author of several other books published by the University of Minnesota Press.

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