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Introduction To Animal And Fungal Interactions

Animals and fungi are heterotrophic. They both require an exogenous source of energy to function. Thus some curious and complex interactions between animals and fungi have evolved. In general, the fungus removes a minute quantity of energy and is thus not a major threat to the animal. However, animals have evolved quite effective immunological responses to deter fungal invasion, indicating fungi have been a severe problem in the past. The presence of fungal pathogens is unusual.

Fungi found associated with animals commonly provide a functional benefit to their host. The benefit is commonly a nutrient, or due to the action of a primary or secondary metabolite. The host is able to exist in harsh and difficult environment because the fungus supplies vitamins or digestive functions, or protection through excretion of toxins. This page provides some examples of interactions that have been studied.

This section of the course is broken into the following topics:

Symbionts and Commensals

Disease

Toxins

Animals Feeding on Fungi

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