Hundreds of Fungi Species Found in Human Foot

June 30, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. microorganism 
[mahy-kroh-AWR-guh-niz-uh m] (n.) – a very small organism unseen by the naked eye
ExampleMicroorganisms such as bacteria can only be seen through a microscope.

2. byproduct [BAHY-prod-uh kt] (n.) – anything that is produced unexpectedly
Example Microorganisms have no control of the byproducts that they produce.

3. fungal [FUHNG-guh l] (adj.) – caused or produced by fungi
Example: Fungi may cause fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and dandruff.

4. numerous [NOO-mer-uh s, NYOO-] (adj.) – many or very large in number
Example: Improper personal hygiene can cause numerous diseases.

5. nourish [NUR-ish, NUHR-] (v.) – to give food and other things required to live or be healthy
Example: Lotions with vitamins and minerals may help nourish the skin.


Read the text below.

The human foot, especially in the toe area, contains hundreds of fungi according to a study by U. S. National Institutes of Health.

Fungi are microorganisms that often live in the surface of a living thing. While not disease-causing, fungi often create a foul odor, which is a byproduct of any microorganism. Fungi can also cause dandruff and athlete’s foot.

The study, involving 10 volunteers from whom samples from 14 body parts were taken, revealed that two of the volunteers seemed to have fungal infections due to scaly heels and thick toenails. On the other hand, the other eight appear to have different types of fungi.

The researchers discovered that fewer fungi are present in the upper body, while hundreds of fungal species live in different parts of the feet. According to researchers, the foot contains numerous fungi because the foot’s temperature is typically lower than other parts of the body.

Among the fungal species found in the human foot is the Penicillium, a kind of fungus where the antibiotic penicillin comes from. The foot might also contain yeasts and Aspergillus, commonly known as molds.

To fight off fungal infections, some people use skin care products. However, experts advise that putting too much products such as moisturizers on the skin may just nourish the fungi instead of killing them. Also, the research team leader said that not all kinds of fungi are harmful, adding that some fungi can even help the skin become healthier.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How do you feel about the information presented in the article?
·         What is it about microorganisms that make some people uneasy?

Discussion B

·         Why is it important to keep the body clean and free from infections?
·         How can people maintain proper personal care and hygiene?


June 30, 2013