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Prof Yash delivers a Talk on 'Fungal and Human Opportunism' at Hansraj College, Delhi University.

JAMMU: With the incidences of fungal diseases growing amidst Covid-19 pandemic, an online talk on ‘The art of taking advantage: Fungal and Human Opportunism' was delivered by Prof. Yash Pal Sharma, Co-ordinator UGC-SAP & former Head, Department of Botany, University of Jammu, in the National Webinar organized by Mahatma Hansraj Faculty Development Centre (MHRDFC) (A Centre of Ministry of Education (MoE), Govt. of India under PMMMNMTT Scheme) of Hans Raj College, University of Delhi.

Addressing a gathering of more than 150 registered participants through virtual mode, Prof Sharma began his presentation by introducing the Fungal Kingdom as one of the components of biodiversity ranking second only to insects with respect to the species diversity. 

"Humans, through wisdom, innovations, and technology have availed opportunities in exploiting fungi for feeding themselves since time immemorial in various ways. Who doesn't know the indispensable role of yeasts and other fungi in bread making, fermentation, source of life-saving drugs, biofertilizers, biocontrol agents, biofuels, nanobiotechnology, etc., he reminded the participants.

In addition, the "wood wide web" (www) formed by the underground fungal mycelium mostly in a symbiotic mode sustains much of the forest flora and crop plants, he added.

However, when the equilibrium in the ecosystem is imbalanced predominantly due to anthropogenic interferences, the microbes including fungi become opportunistic and that exactly has been one of the underlying predisposing factors for plants and human diseases including the Covid-19 and mucormycosis, said the learned mycologist from Jammu.

Eleven genera and more than 27 species of the fungal order Mucorales (class Mucormycetes) which are omnipresent and unavoidable contaminants in soil, decaying organic matter, air, etc. become opportunistic especially in weak and immunocompromised hosts and may result in mucormycosis. He explained the morphological nature of these moulds and the proposed molecular mechanism of their invasion in patients suffering from acute diabetes and the post-Covid-19 recoveries. 70-80% alone are caused by species of Rhizopus, Mucor, and Lichtheimia, he explained.

Concluding his talk, Prof Sharma strongly dispelled some of the myths related to fungal infections and stressed upon the basic preventive measures as well as maintaining personal health and hygiene, judicious use of medical drugs and seeking immediate medical interventions immediately in case of any doubt related to these infections.

Earlier, Dr. Monika Koul, the webinar coordinator introduced the speaker while Prof. (Dr.) Rama, Principal, Hansraj College & Chairperson, MHRFDC expressed his gratitude to the speaker for speaking on the topic for creating much-needed awareness amongst the masses.

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