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item Rossman, Amy

Submitted to: Phytopathology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/29/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Fungi are a virtually unknown and untapped natural resource that have the potential to solve many agricultural and environmental problems. The key to using these resource organisms is discovering and describing characteristics of the estimated 1.43 million species that are hypothesized to exist. Locating these unknown fungal species is a problem. This paper presents data about where many of the undescribed fungi may exist. Unexplored habitats include tropical forests as well as temperate ecosystems. Unusual hosts such as algae, lichen, mosses, mangrove wood, on and in rocks, and insect scales have yielded many new species of fungi as do most non-economically important plants. New fungal specie are occasionally collected but never described and thus remain hidden as unprocessed collections. Those searching for new fungi to be used, for example, as biological control agents, to breakdown toxic chemicals or to produce food enhancers will find the information presented in this paper t be valuable.

Technical Abstract: The hypothesis that there are 1.5 million fungal species on Earth implies that 1.43 million remain undescribed. If the hypothesis is correct, there must exist habitats in which many new species can be found. The recognition of such habitats is of interest to the bioprospector searching for novel organisms to screen for pharmaceutical and other exploitable attributes as well as plant pathologists who continue to encounter disease caused by previously unknown fungi. This paper presents data on the numbers of fungi to be expected in tropical forests, and also those to be obligately associated with plants, lichens and insects. Other fungi may be been collected, yet remain lost or hidden as named but orphaned species; others have been collected but remain unidentified. Some fungal species are unrecognized within broadly circumscribed species, or exist as biological species embedded within morphologically characterized ones. The conclusion nis inescapable that there are enormous numbers of unrecognized fungi that can be found almost everywhere, including one's own back yard.