Mycology is the study of fungi and their biochemical and genetic properties, and their applications to human life such as medicines, food, and the dangers that they can present such as infections. This includes not only mushrooms, but also molds and bacteria. Phytopathology, which is the study of plant diseases, came about from mycology and these two are very closely related because often molds and other fungi attack plants in order to survive.
It has been found that the DNA of fungi is much more like the DNA that we humans have instead of being like the DNA that is found in plants. This is not only intriguing in the aspect that fungi look absolutely nothing like us, but also that it creates some challenges concerning research and issues that relate to the health of human beings. It has been speculated that since we now have the DNA of mold, we can use that to determine what level of risk it may pose to human beings and other life. We have also been able to determine that about one fourth of the human population has been genetically exposed to having a sensitivity to mold.
People say that mold and other kinds of fungi have only recently become a problem, but actually the fact is that we do not realize that mold has been a problem since Biblical times. It is mentioned quite blatantly in the book of Leviticus in the Talmud Torah. Moses provides instruction within it on how to identify and treat the mold infections in the home.
Molds growing in the home are a serious problem and most people do not realize that you can become seriously ill, permanently disabled, and even dead due to these contaminations. There are not enough mycologists and the general consensus is that mold is not being studied enough, considering the wide range of health effects that can arise from being exposed to it.
In order to become a mycologist, one must study for years and be involved in both laboratory and field work with fungi in hospitals, industry, food, and universities. Mycologists are often found working in industries such as infection control, management in hospitals, and in some pharmaceutical industries.
There are several schools that you can do to in the United States. The Universities of Texas and Minnesota offer some excellent programs. In Canada, the school in Toronto also has a good mycology program. There are some schools, however, that are dropping these programs because of the lack of interest in them.