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Boddy, Lynne ORCID: 2010. Editorial. Fungal Ecology 3 (2) , p. 49. 10.1016/j.funeco.2009.10.002

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Saprotrophs and mycorrhizal fungi are the major agents of decomposition and nutrient cycling in terrestrial ecosystems. Ensuring that they continue to play these vital roles, and that species richness is maintained, is crucial to the functioning and resilience of terrestrial ecosystems. While the conservation of land mammals and other vertebrates is high on political agendas worldwide, conservation of fungi rarely makes it onto the radar. Dahlberg et al. (2010) review the state of fungal conservation in Europe, and include the different types of action that can be taken to aid fungus conservation. They indicate the necessity of integrating “the will to conserve fungi and mycological expertise with practical land management practises and local/national incentive schemes”. They also emphasise that it is essential that fungus conservation is underpinned by mycological knowledge, including disentangling taxonomic uncertainties, understanding population dynamics and habitat requirements, and obtaining surveillance data recording distribution and abundance. This themed issue on rare and endangered fungi touches on all of these aspects. While Fungal Ecology would not normally publish taxonomic articles, it is essential to be able to discriminate closely related taxa of rare and endangered fungi, since different species may have very different ecology and hence conservation requirements. Ainsworth et al. (2010), using molecular approaches (ITS1 sequencing), reveal the existence of cryptic species within several rare stipitate hydnoids in the genera Hydnellum and Phellodon. There has been a dramatic decline in stipitate hydnoids since 1950, almost certainly due to nitrogen pollution of soils, but there has been a partial recovery in some areas since 1998 (Arnolds 2010). Decline of most fungi, including stipitate hydnoids, is based on decreasing records of sporocarps. However, modern molecular methods allow the development of PCR specific primers that can amplify DNA of target fungi from the substratum in which fungi grow providing the potential for detection of mycelium in the field ( [Ainsworth et al., 2010] and [van der Linde et al., 2010]). van der Linde et al. (2010) utilise this approach to determine the distribution of stipitate hydnoids in forest soil following artificial introduction of inoculum of Hydnellum peckii and Phellodon tomentosus. Understanding the ecology of rare and endangered fungi is the key to understanding their rareness and hence conservation requirements. Crucial questions are how is a rare fungus dispersed in space and time, how does it become established, and what is its population structure? Population structure, mating system, basidiospore and chlamydospore survival and germination, and mycelial extension under different abiotic conditions were investigated to help elucidate the rarity of the oak polypore Piptoporus quercinus (Crockatt et al. 2010). Germination of basidospores was poor though chlamydospore germination was considerably higher even after several weeks under desiccating conditions, and there was evidence of inbreeding within the UK population. The five papers within this issue of Fungal Ecology mark a step in the right direction for fungus conservation. We hope to publish more, detailed studies in the future.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Biosciences
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Additional Information: Available online 14 November 2009.
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1754-5048
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Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 09:06

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