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What If Fungi Win?

Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD
with Stephanie Desmon, MA

Publication Date
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Could fungal pathogens outsmart us before we find ways to combat them?

Humans and fungi share nearly 50 percent of the same DNA. Because we're related, designing drugs to combat the varieties that attack us is a challenge. Meanwhile, in an ever hotter, wetter world, fungi may be finding new ways to thrive, queueing up global outbreak potentials for which no vaccine and woefully few medications exist; some fungi are already beginning to resist treatment. Among other lifeforms, bats, amphibians, and essential crops are also increasingly threatened by these pathogens.

Enter fungal kingdom...

Could fungal pathogens outsmart us before we find ways to combat them?

Humans and fungi share nearly 50 percent of the same DNA. Because we're related, designing drugs to combat the varieties that attack us is a challenge. Meanwhile, in an ever hotter, wetter world, fungi may be finding new ways to thrive, queueing up global outbreak potentials for which no vaccine and woefully few medications exist; some fungi are already beginning to resist treatment. Among other lifeforms, bats, amphibians, and essential crops are also increasingly threatened by these pathogens.

Enter fungal kingdom frontiersman Dr. Arturo Casadevall, an epidemiologist, professor, and inventor. Casadevall shares how the 1990s AIDS epidemic's fungal complications drove his medical mycology work, how COVID-19's fungal incidences underscore the continuing threat to the immunocompromised, and how he and his Johns Hopkins University laboratory team are discovering ways to counter the threats posed by these cunning, hungry combatants.

What If Fungi Win? describes the beneficial roles of fungi along with their mischievous and deadly impacts and illustrates how committed experts like Casadevall are researching ways to save us and our food supplies. In addition to an overview of blights, lichens, molds, mushrooms, rusts, and smuts, readers will learn about:

• how fungi proliferated following the mass dinosaur extinction
• Oregon's ancient 2,384-acre Armillaria ostoyae—Earth's largest organism
• the rye fungus ergot that may have fueled the Salem witch trials
• mushrooms used to create vegan leather and eco-friendly packaging, as well as plastic-consuming fungi
• why it's critical that funding institutions pay attention to fungal risks and aid scientists in their work.

Reviews

Reviews

A fascinating look at an incredible and terrifying life form. Casadevall and Desmon weave a riveting tale about an organism that could either save us or kill us, and our need to get out in front of it.

If you don't know why you should care about fungi, read this captivating book that illustrates the dangers of ignoring them—including how climate change poses new fungal risks for humanity. A fascinating and timely review by a distinguished authority in the field of medical mycology.

What If Fungi Win? is an entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking narrative that explores both the beneficial (food, vegan textiles, environmentally friendly packaging) and devastating (animal and crop diseases) impacts of fungi—past present, and future—that moves seamlessly from the big picture to specific examples and experiments.

An engaging exploration of the impacts of fungi on our daily lives—and on our planet. From microscopic single-celled yeast to a massive 2,300-acre mycelial network, and from helpful fungi that could serve as air-cooling systems to emerging fungal threats to crops, humans, and other life forms, Dr. Casadevall offers an accessible, thought-provoking assessment, reminding us that 'Science is humanity's best insurance policy.'

Drawing on his decades of experience and wealth of knowledge, preeminent expert Dr. Casadevall defines the possible threats posed by pathogenic fungi, the challenges clinicians face in treating these diseases, and what physicians and scientists are doing to combat the problems.

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About

Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
5
x
7
Pages
224
ISBN
9781421449005
Illustration Description
4 b&w illus.
Table of Contents

Preface
1. The Fungal Kingdom
2. From Germ Theory to Magic Mushrooms
3. The Age of Mammals (Thanks to Fungi)
4. Fungal Drivers of Extinction
5. What Will the Fungi Unleash?
6. Are We Ready for This?
7. As

Preface
1. The Fungal Kingdom
2. From Germ Theory to Magic Mushrooms
3. The Age of Mammals (Thanks to Fungi)
4. Fungal Drivers of Extinction
5. What Will the Fungi Unleash?
6. Are We Ready for This?
7. As Mysterious as They Are Alarming

Author Bios
Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD
Featured Contributor

Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD

Arturo Casadevall, MD, PhD, is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and Alfred and Jill Summer Chair of the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Casadevall is the author of more than 1,000 publications, and his key research interests are focused on host defense mechanisms, how fungi cause disease, and the development of antibody-based...
Stephanie Desmon
Featured Contributor

Stephanie Desmon, MA

Stephanie Desmon is a communications director at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and an award-winning journalist. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and many other publications. Desmon also co-hosts Hopkins’ Public Health on Call podcast.