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Abstract

Microbiology includes all three domains of life in its research subjects, archaea, bacteria and eukarya. From the eukaryotes, the kingdom of true fungi, the Eumycota, are specifically subjects which can only be investigated by microbiological and molecular genetic techniques. This journal receives and publishes on a regular basis articles dealing with fungi, ascomycetes as well as basidiomycetes, and to a lesser extend also zygomyetes. These organisms differ, in many respects, from the prokaryotic organisms also investigated in microbiology, and therefore warrant specific attention in their own rights. With this Special Issue on “Basic Mycology” we wanted to address the fungi and show their versatility and the basic insights that can be gained from studying these eukaryotic microbes.

Fungi create a versatile source of metabolites and enzymes with potential for biotechnological applications. Journal of Basic Microbiology receives, on a regular basis, numerous manuscripts dealing with production of fungal enzymes and metabolites, as well as with fungal biology. Knowing that many of our authors and readers are interested in the fungal laccases, we include here one review which gives insight into the role of lignin modifying enzymes in filamentous basidiomycetes and clarifies the relationships between lignin peroxidases and laccases. For industrial and biotechnological purposes, laccases were, and still are, of major importance, as these fungal oxidoreductases can be used in removal of polyphenols, e.g. in wine and beverages, toxic dyes from waste waters, or in bleaching for paper industry. This is reflected in three original articles in this Special Issue dealing with laccases, which is currently attracting more attention, as the ecological importance of litter degradation is being explored in more detail.

Two more papers are dealing with fungal lipases, also showing the ability of fungi for biotechnology. Lipases from microbes also have applications in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. In both cases, aspergilli were used for the applications of basic mechanisms in fungi.

Also using Aspergillus as a model, lectins and the production of a compound known from rose oil were investigated. The latter shows, that the isolation of new strains, in this case from within rose tissue, might reveal interesting insights into basic principles.

Not an endophytic, but a pathogenic interaction is seen with rust and smut fungi and their plant hosts. A means to determine geographical variation among different strains is shown for Perenospora.

A second review article is dealing with the well-studied model of using different yeasts, in this case to study metal resistance mechanisms. Here, basic insights into chromium resistance are given. Two original papers within this Special Issue relate to this review: one also dealing with heavy metal resistance versus sensitivity, showing involvement of cyclic AMP in this process. The second paper is also using a yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, where the uptake of fluorescently labeled DNA can be visualized.

All in all, with articles covering the fungal kingdom with ascomycetes – from unicellular yeasts through aspergilli and Fusarium – over rust and smut fungi to laccase producing basidiomycetes, we hope that we can provide with this Special Issue on “Basic Mycology” an overview over current research on this special clade of microorganisms.

The articles included in Special Issue of Mycology originate from different parts of the world: India, China, South-America and Europe. In Asian countries the emphasis is, not only deduced from the present articles, on identifying fungal species, the products of which (enzymes or metabolites) could and will have practical use. This makes it sometimes difficult to deduce whether the article would fit better into a biotechnological journal. However, fungi have been and will be an extensive source of new products. Therefore, we have and will welcome this type of articles considered as a first step in a process that might lead to large scale applications for a fungal product.

The basic sciences, investigating regulation of fungal physiology and morphology, are being at the heart not only of the Special Issue “Basic Mycology”, but generally for the Journal of Basic Microbiology. The topic is becoming better understood by the help of numerous sequenced fungal genomes, and the editors would welcome more basic research on fungal microorganisms. (© 2010 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)