Fungi re­port is first of its kind

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Wild News -

L ead­ing my­col­o­gists from the Royal Botanic Gar­dens, Kew, have col­lab­o­rated with an international team of ex­perts to present a new re­port on our knowl­edge of fungi, high­light­ing its im­por­tance to life on Earth: the or­gan­isms de­com­pose dead ma­te­rial, cy­cle nu­tri­ents and can even help pre­vent de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“When look­ing for na­ture-based so­lu­tions to some of our most crit­i­cal global chal­lenges, fungi could pro­vide many of the an­swers,” says Prof Kather­ine Wil­lis, di­rec­tor of science at Kew.

The avail­abil­ity and ef­fi­ciency of DNAbased meth­ods has en­abled sci­en­tists to de­tect thou­sands of new fungi species per year – 2,189 were de­scribed in 2017, pre­dom­i­nantly from the phy­lum As­comy­cota – but there are at least two mil­lion species yet to be de­scribed.

The global mar­ket for ed­i­ble mush­rooms is worth ap­prox­i­mately £32bn per year, while gen­era such as Peni­cil­lium – which is used in cheese, an­tibi­otic and con­tra­cep­tive-pill pro­duc­tion – un­der­pin many ev­ery­day prod­ucts. De­spite their value, only 56 species of fungi have had their con­ser­va­tion sta­tus as­sessed com­pared with 25,452 plants and 68,054 an­i­mals. “Fungi should be viewed on a par with the plant and an­i­mal king­doms,” says Wil­lis. “We have only just started to scratch the sur­face of knowl­edge of this in­cred­i­ble group of or­gan­isms.” Niki Rust

FIND OUT MORE

State of the World’s Fungi re­port: sta­te­ofthe­worlds­fungi.org

The crino­line stinkhorn is one of 144,000 named and classified fungi species.

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