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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    • "Fungi encompass a diverse group of eukaryotic organisms ranging from microscopic, single celled yeasts to macroscopic multicellular mushrooms (Kendrick 1985; Schoch et al. 2014) and are numerically among the most abundant eukaryotes in the Earth's biosphere (Smil 2003; Gherbawy and Voigt 2010; Blackwell 2011; Hawksworth 2015). They are vital to ecosystem functioning, play important roles in natural nutrient cycling , and cause disease of humans, animals and plants. "
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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Taxonomic names are key links between various databases that store information on different organisms. Several global fungal nomenclural and taxonomic databases (notably Index Fungorum, Species Fungorum and MycoBank) can be sourced to find taxonomic details about fungi, while DNA sequence data can be sourced from NCBI, EBI and UNITE databases. Although the sequence data may be linked to a name, the quality of the metadata is variable and generally there is no corresponding link to images, descriptions or herbarium material. There is generally no way to establish the accuracy of the names in these genomic databases, other than whether the submission is from a reputable source. To tackle this problem, a new database (FacesofFungi), accessible at (FoF) has been established. This fungal database allows deposition of taxonomic data, phenotypic details and other useful data, which will enhance our current taxonomic understanding and ultimately enable mycologists to gain better and updated insights into the current fungal classification system. In addition, the database will also allow access to comprehensive metadata including descriptions of voucher and type specimens. This database is user-friendly, providing links and easy access between taxonomic ranks, with the classification system based primarily on molecular data (from the literature and via updated web-based phylogenetic trees), and to a lesser extent on morphological data when molecular data are unavailable. In FoF species are not only linked to the closest phylogenetic representatives, but also relevant data is provided, wherever available, on various applied aspects, such as ecological, industrial, quarantine and chemical uses. The data include the three main fungal groups (Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Basal fungi) and fungus-like organisms. The FoF webpage is an output funded by the Mushroom Research Foundation which is an NGO with seven directors with mycological expertise. The webpage has 76 curators, and with the help of these specialists, FoF will provide an updated natural classification of the fungi, with illustrated accounts of species linked to molecular data. The present paper introduces the FoF database to the scientific community and briefly reviews some of the problems associated with classification and identification of the main fungal groups. The structure and use of the database is then explained. We would like to invite all mycologists to contribute to these web pages. Keywords Classification . Database . FacesofFungi . Fungi . Phylogeny . Taxonomy
    Fungal Diversity 11/2015; DOI:10.1007/s13225-015-0351-8 · 6.22 Impact Factor
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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 small subunit gene, which is widely used as a marker for bacterial communities , does not provide enough phylogenetic resolution for fungi (Schoch et al., 2012; Lindahl et al., 2013). There are about 100 000 described fungal species but the total diversity is estimated to between 1.5 and 5.1 million species (Blackwell, 2011). The application of HTS has led to an increasing discovery of unnamed operational taxonomic units (OTUs) inferred only from sequence data (Hibbett et al., 2011). "
    09/2015, Degree: PhD
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