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  • PLPPM 2010, Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds (2cr)
  • PLPPM 2013, Mushrooms, Molds, and More (3cr)

Lectures TR 1:25 to 2:15pm, Spring semesters
Professor Kathie T. Hodge


Chicken of the woods happinessThe class is a fun, approachable introduction to mushrooms and other fungi, designed to be accessible to students who aren’t life science majors.  We take a look at how the world works, with fungi as our lens. Not many universities teach about fungi at all. At Cornell we’re famous for it!

Fungi include mushrooms, molds, yeasts, and plant diseases.  Some are dangerous; others delicious. They make our medicines plus our beer, wine and bread. As a group, they dramatically impact human civilization.  Beyond fungi, the class helps you become informed citizens on some of the most important issues of our time: the debate on genetically modified organisms; carbon cycles and climate change; and how we can feed the world.

Course structure

The Demo Lab!There are really two magical mushrooms classes.  The core is a 2 credit class (PLPPM 2010) that combines lectures and demonstrations for a thorough introduction to fungi on earth.  Want more? You can add a 3rd credit:

PLPPM 2013 is a 3-credit class based on the same lectures, PLUS a 50 min lab (on either Wed or Fri). Our labs let you get hands-on with fungi, and learn to work with them. Lab seats are limited - enroll early!

Course history

Magical Mushrooms was developed by Prof. George Hudler back in 1991. Prof. Kathie Hodge took it over in 2015.  Both are professional mycologists and award-winning teachers with a strong love of fungi, students, and teaching. This class gives you plenty of interesting tales to discuss around the dinner table. How plant diseases and food spoilage fungi affect our ability to feed the world, and how fungi can feed us. How we use fungi to make medicines like penicillin and insulin. How genetic modification could affect fungi, plants, and people; and how some GMO fungi are already making things we eat. How mushrooms support whole forest ecosystems; and how their spores can seed raindrops. How some kinds of mushrooms can make you sick, or get you high.