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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Strategy for an All-Taxa Inventory of Fungal Biodiversity
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by Amy Y. Rossman

Published as: Chapter 14. pp. 169-194. In: C.-I. Peng and C.H. Chou (eds.) Biodiversity and Terrestrial Ecosystems. Inst. Botany, Acad. Sinica Monograph Series No. 14. 1994.

Fungi are a group of organisms united by their mode of nutrition, namely absorption, and thus are able to exploit an almost infinite diversity of nutritional microniches. To inventory all fungal taxa in a defined area the complete range of organic substrates must be sampled in all stages of development and decay over time. A mycological team of at least four experts is needed to collect or sample periodically in the field with back-up personnel in the laboratory isolating from these substrates. The field team should include: a macrofungus specialist to collect and identify polypores and agaricales (mushrooms); two microfungus experts to collect in specialized habitats above ground ranging from living leaves in the canopy to litter, twigs and dead wood; and a specialist making isolations in the field from plant parts, soil, roots, and water. For a truly all-taxa inventory, an expert on fastidious fungi is needed for isolation from anaerobic and extreme environments. The team of experts sorts specimens to major group for distribution to taxonomic specialists. Cooperation with vascular plant and insect taxonomists is needed for identification of hosts. Fungi sporulating in the field can be isolated in the laboratory from single spores to produce alternate morphs. Specialized techniques such as particle filtration and various selective media can be used to maximize the diversity of species isolated from particular substrates. A worldwide network of systematic mycologists is required for the identification and characterization of these fungi as well as a computerized information handling system so that collection data is entered only once and then used for labels, checklists, herbarium records, and data analyses. Expected results of an all-taxa inventory of fungal biodiversity are between 10,000-50,000 species of which about 50-80% may be new to science.

Keywords: biodiversity, diversity, fungi, inventory, mycota, sampling, survey

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Last Modified: 8/13/2016
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