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Geomycology

  • Geoffrey Michael GaddEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Fungal Biology book series (FUNGBIO)

Abstract

Geomycology can be simply defined as ‘the scientific study of the roles of fungi in processes of fundamental importance to geology’. As such it can be considered as a sub-discipline of geomicrobiology and a component of biogeochemistry. The geomycological importance of fungi is significant in several key areas, such as nutrient and element cycling, rock and mineral transformations, bioweathering and mycogenic biomineral formation. Such processes can occur in aquatic and terrestrial habitats, but it is in the terrestrial environment where fungi probably have the greatest geochemical influence. Of special significance are the mutualistic relationships with phototrophic organisms, lichens (algae, cyanobacteria) and mycorrhizas (plants). Central to most geomycological processes are transformations of metals and minerals, and fungi possess a variety of properties that affect metal speciation, toxicity and mobility, as well as mineral formation, dissolution or deterioration. Some fungal transformations have potential beneficial applications in environmental biotechnology, e.g. in metal and radionuclide leaching, biorecovery, detoxification and bioremediation, and in the production or deposition of biominerals or metallic elements with catalytic or other properties. Metal and mineral transformations may also result in adverse effects when these processes result in spoilage and destruction of natural and synthetic materials, rock and mineral-based building materials (e.g. plaster, mortar, concrete), biocorrosion of metals, alloys and related substances, and adverse effects on radionuclide speciation, mobility and containment. The ubiquity and importance of fungi in biosphere processes underlines the importance of geomycology as an interdisciplinary subject area.

Keywords

Geomycology Geomicrobiology Biomineralization Bioremediation Metal-microbe interactions Biominerals Mineral dissolution Biorecovery Biocorrosion 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author gratefully acknowledges research support from the Natural Environment Research Council (NE/M010910/1 (TeaSe); NE/M011275/1 (COG3)), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1503281), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Royal Societies of London and Edinburgh, CCLRC Daresbury SRS, British Nuclear Fuels plc, the National Nuclear Laboratory and Nuclear Decommissioning Agency, and an award under the 1000 Talents Plan with the Xinjiang Institute of Geography and Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, China.

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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geomicrobiology Group, School of Life SciencesUniversity of DundeeDundeeUK

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