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Ergot and its disease ergotism have been a worldwide plague to humans ever since humans have started to harvest and cultivate grains in all their forms Although outbreaks of ergotism still occur periodically they have all but become nonexistent in the modern era Ergot has had beneficial effects as well Ergot has produced medicines which are vital to the medicine world Ergot has produced in the worlds eyes an ugly stepsister to its medicines LSD D-lysergic acid diethylamide known to the world as LSD is a derivative of ergot Ergot has had a far and wide-ranging impact on man unrealized by most people Ergot fungi are molds that infect rye and other cereals and wild grasses Microsoft Encarta 1999 The scientific name of the most prevalent form of ergot is Claviceps Purpurea When wind-tossed spores of ergot land on a healthy stigma of grains or grasses they enter as does pollen into the ovary and begin to form a fine mycelial network Salvador and Kolla 1 The mycelia network commonly called honeydew begins forming asexually produced spores which are called conidiospores Walker 546 The honeydew is a sugary-like thing which attract insects who feed on the sugary substance and they in turn carry spores which get stuck to their legs to healthy plants and in turn infect those plants Salvador and Kolla 1 The mycelial network deep inside the ovary eventually kills the ovary and forms a dense hard structure called a sclerotium The honeydew is not responsible for the production of the toxic chemicals which in their own turn causes the disease known as ergotism Ergotism is a complex disease that results from the ingestion of grains and cereals infected with ergot by humans and domestic animals Salvador and Kolla 1 This disease was common among people who ate bread made from rye grain that contained ergot sclerotia Ammirati 349 During the Middle Ages ergotism was commonly referred to as St Anthonys Fire People
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