Mycologists are botanists who specialise in fungi. They study various aspects of fungi such as their biochemical properties and genetic structure. They also classify fungi into different categories depending on their specific features. Mycologists also study the use of fungi for medicinal purposes.
Fungi can be used for the manufacture of penicillin and other antibiotics, vaccines, cheese, alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine, and may be used as food in the form of edible mushrooms.
Mycologists find out which fungi are dangerous, causing infections, diseases (such as ringworm, athlete’s foot), or poisoning. They analyse, test and experiment with different types of fungi and use their research to develop new products and procedures for human use or for improving the environment. They document all their research and prepare reports and scientific papers on their findings.
Mycologists can work independently or as part of a team that would include microbiologists, botanists and phytopathologists. The team would also have assistants who support them with technical matters and research.
They work in laboratories and offices conducting research and tests, or outdoors collecting samples and carrying out field trials.