Published on: April 4, 2023

Plant fungus

Plant fungus

Why in news? The first case of a plant fungus called Chondrostereum purpureum infecting human beings has been reported from Kolkata.


  • The fungus, Chondrostereum purpureum, is known to cause Silver leaf disease in plants, especially in species of rose families.
  • There were no reported instances of this fungus infecting human beings from any part of the world.
  • Of the hundreds of millions of fungal species, only a few cause infections in humans and this may be the start of a new phenomenon when plant fungus is adapting to invade human cells by evading the process of ‘phagocytosis’.
  • The process of ‘cell eating’, happens when a cell uses its plasma membrane to engulf a large particle, giving rise to an internal compartment called the ‘phagosome’. Organisms clean and defend themselves by this process.
  • Human beings with a compromised immune system are most vulnerable to fungal infection. We witnessed this during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the main reason for this phenomenon ?

  • Rising temperature due to global warming is thought of as one of the major reasons for this new threat to human beings.
  • Most fungi thrive in the range of 12°C to 30°C. However, many species are thermo tolerant and can withstand high temperatures.
  • In order to invade human cells, fungi, on one hand, have to be able to evade the phagocytosis pathway and, on the other hand, should have the ability to grow at 35-37 °C temperature. Global warming could have a significant effect on fungal populations.
  • Global warming can change the distribution of heat-tolerant and susceptible species, This will facilitate fungi to spread and enter into closer contact with human populations and a few of those having pathogenic potential can acquire the ability to survive at body temperatures.
  • This threat is magnified as some fungi can take the benefit of a natural selection-adaptation strategy, and therefore adapt to a higher temperature by thermal selection.

What is Phagocytosis?

  • Phagocytosis is the process by which a cell uses its plasma membrane to engulf a large particle, giving rise to an internal compartment called the phagosome. It is one type of endocytosis.
  • In other words, is a cellular process for ingesting and eliminating particles, including foreign substances, microorganisms, and apoptotic cells