Mycotoxins and PCR

We had some lectures on fungus, which can infest and ruin crops. Some of them, like ergot, I had heard of, and some were new. We looked at some of them under the microscope, which was really cool and gross. Some fungi create mycotoxins, which can poison humans and livestock, and even make people sick from eating meat or dairy products from poisoned livestock. We watched a very sad video of a horse suffering from a neurological illness caused by mycotoxins. I think it was a good way to illustrate the relevance of the material we are learning. Things like mycotoxins may seem obscure, but they can affect humans in many ways.

After lecture, we took to the lab to learn how a certain damaging fungus, Fusarium, is identified. One must match its DNA to a known template for a positive ID. Although the instructor did most of the work, it was still cool to see how it is done.DSC00426

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