The Fungi: 1, 2, 3 … 5.1 Million Species?

Department of Biological Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803, USA.
American Journal of Botany (Impact Factor: 2.6). 03/2011; 98(3):426-38. DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1000298
Source: PubMed


Fungi are major decomposers in certain ecosystems and essential associates of many organisms. They provide enzymes and drugs and serve as experimental organisms. In 1991, a landmark paper estimated that there are 1.5 million fungi on the Earth. Because only 70000 fungi had been described at that time, the estimate has been the impetus to search for previously unknown fungi. Fungal habitats include soil, water, and organisms that may harbor large numbers of understudied fungi, estimated to outnumber plants by at least 6 to 1. More recent estimates based on high-throughput sequencing methods suggest that as many as 5.1 million fungal species exist.
Technological advances make it possible to apply molecular methods to develop a stable classification and to discover and identify fungal taxa.
Molecular methods have dramatically increased our knowledge of Fungi in less than 20 years, revealing a monophyletic kingdom and increased diversity among early-diverging lineages. Mycologists are making significant advances in species discovery, but many fungi remain to be discovered.
Fungi are essential to the survival of many groups of organisms with which they form associations. They also attract attention as predators of invertebrate animals, pathogens of potatoes and rice and humans and bats, killers of frogs and crayfish, producers of secondary metabolites to lower cholesterol, and subjects of prize-winning research. Molecular tools in use and under development can be used to discover the world's unknown fungi in less than 1000 years predicted at current new species acquisition rates.

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Available from: Meredith Blackwell, Mar 07, 2014
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    • "For thousands of years fungi have been recognised as nutritious, highly palatable functional foods in many societies and are now accepted as a valuable source for the development of medicines and nutraceuticals (Chang & Buswell, 1996; Wasser, 2002). Pharmacological and medicinal studies of fungi have shown that the Basidiomycete and Ascomycete divisions are an immense source of biologically active components, yet less than ten percent of all species have been described and even less have been tested for therapeutic significance (Blackwell, 2011; Lindequist, Niedermeyer, & Julich, 2005). Extensive epidemiology studies have demonstrated a variety of natural foods to be sources of multiple antioxidants which are strongly associated with reduced disease risk (Ferreira, Barros, & Abreu, 2009; Liu, 2004). "
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    ABSTRACT: Ten species of filamentous fungi grown in submerged flask cultures were investigated for antioxidant capacity. Effective antioxidant activity was demonstrated in terms of β-carotene/linoleic acid bleaching, radical scavenging, reduction of metal ions and chelating abilities against ferrous ions. Different extraction methods affected antioxidant activities through their effect on biologically active compounds produced in fungal mycelia. The methanolic extract of each fungus was typically more effective in antioxidant properties. Phenolic content was established in the range of 0.44-9.33mg/g, flavonoid contents were in the range of 0.02-3.90mg/g and condensed tannin contents were in the range of 1.77-18.83mg/g. Total phenol content of each extract was attributed to overall antioxidant capacity (r⩾0.883-1.000). Submerged cultivation of Grifola frondosa, Monascus purpureus, Pleurotus spp., Lentinula edodes and Trametes versicolor proved to be an effective method for the production of natural antioxidants. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Food Chemistry 10/2015; 185. DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.03.134 · 3.39 Impact Factor
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    • "The fungus kingdom includes approximately 1.5 million species; however only 14,000 are basidiomycetes (Blackwell, 2011). Few of these genera are cultivated on an industrial scale worldwide, including Pleurotus, Lentinula, Auricularia, Agaricus, Flammulina, Coprinus, Agrocybe, and Volvariella (Li, 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Submerged cultivation of medicinal basidiomycetes is a reproducible and efficient method of producing mycelia and metabolites. The antioxidant activity indicates its medicinal properties and is an important tool for basidiomycete screening. In this study, we analyzed the production of mycelial biomass and exopolysaccharides and the antioxidant activity of basidiomycete strains in submerged cultivation. Twenty-five strains were used for submerged cultivation in extract malt medium, and the production of mycelial biomass and exopolysaccharides was evaluated. Antioxidant activity was determined using the 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl method. Among the 25 evaluated strains, Lentinus crinitus produced the highest biomass, reaching 1190 ± 52 mg·L
    Genetics and molecular research: GMR 08/2015; 14(3):9907-9914. DOI:10.4238/2015.August.19.25 · 0.78 Impact Factor
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    • "Currently, our ability to predict the response of fungal and plant communities to climate change factors is hampered both by the few detailed descriptions of the members of these communities and our limited understanding of the ecological role of many fungal species. Globally, approximately 100 000 species of fungi have been described, but their true diversity may be as high as 5 million species (Blackwell 2011). In recent years, an increasing number of molecular studies have been devoted to studying arctic fungi. "
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    ABSTRACT: Fungi, including symbionts, pathogens and decomposers, play crucial roles in community dynamics and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Despite their ecological importance, the responses of most arctic fungi to climate warming is unknown, so are their potential roles in driving the observed and predicted changes in tundra communities. We carried out deep DNA sequencing of soil samples to study the long-term effects of experimental warming on fungal communities in dry heath and moist tussock tundra in Arctic Alaska. The data presented here indicate that fungal community composition responds strongly to warming in the moist tundra, but not in the dry tundra. While total fungal richness were not significantly affected by warming, there were clear correlations among OTU richness of various ecological and taxonomic groups and long-term warming. Richness of ectomycorrhizal, ericoid mycorrhizal and lichenized fungi generally decreased with warming, while richness of saprotrophic, plant and animal pathogenic, and root endophytic fungi tended to increase in the warmed plots. More importantly, various taxa within these functional guilds followed opposing trends that highlight the importance of species-specific responses to warming. We recommend that species-level ecological differences are taken into account in climate change and nutrient cycling studies that involve arctic fungi. © FEMS 2015. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
    FEMS Microbiology Ecology 08/2015; 91(8). DOI:10.1093/femsec/fiv095 · 3.57 Impact Factor
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