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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: October 2013

Preface

Summary

The fungi are a highly diverse kingdom of eukaryotic microbes that have been exploited commercially for decades due to their ability to secrete large quantities of proteins of commercial value, and because they possess complex secondary metabolic pathways producing a diverse range of bioactive compounds that have had a major impact in the pharmaceutical market. For example, penicillin and cephalosporin (antibiotics), cylosporin (immunosuppressant) and more recently the statins (cholesterol reducing agents) are estimated to be worth over $5 billion per annum, while enzymes and proteins produced commercially in fungal hosts are used in a diverse number of commercial markets including baking, brewing, detergent, textile and animal feed industries. In addition to the exploitation of fungal products, the fungi themselves are increasingly being developed as alternatives to conventional chemically based pest control strategies, as biocontrol agents active against commercially damaging insect pathogens and weeds, and as bioremediation agents capable of transforming organic and inorganic pollutants in the soil environment. Recent advances in the molecular genetics of the fungi together with the recent release of whole genome sequences of an increasing number of fungi will facilitate further the exploitation and commercialization of these important and ubiquitous eukaryotic microorganisms. The objective of this symposium volume is to highlight current and future biological, biochemical and molecular exploitation of the fungi in biotechnology, and act as an interface between current research and future commercialization.