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FUNGAL PLANET:
A Peer-Reviewed Global Initiative to Promote the Study of Fungal Biodiversity.

Crous PW, Seifert KA, Samson RA & Hawksworth DL (eds)

Now online: Fungal Planet description sheets: 12841382. Persoonia 47, 2021: 178 374

 

The concept of biodiversity brings images of adorable animals (‘charismatic megafauna’) and beautiful plants to the mind of the average person. Many people are concerned about endangered species, and in general about the negative effects of human economic activities on wild plants and animals. Those who fund biodiversity research often have similar perspectives.  These viewpoints are understandable, but in terms of real biology, unrealistically narrow.
Few people, for example, ever think of fungi in these terms. Fungi are rarely considered organisms that can be threatened, or whose activities can be essential to the health of ecosystems. A major aim within biology these days is to link fungi to their environment, i.e. to the ecosystems where they occur.  Mycologists know that there are more than 1.5 million species of fungi, of which we currently know only around 7%. The Fungal Planet project is intended to facilitate the description of new fungal species.  At the same time, it aims to stabilize the nomenclature of known species, and very importantly, to develop non-technical material on fungal diversity that might resonate with politicians, decision makers and other biologists. With this initiative, we aim to highlight the world’s incredible fungal diversity, and thus emphasize the importance of supporting fungal biodiversity research. 
Although not all fungi can be cultivated , we intend to make cultures or DNA extracts of all species included in the Fungal Planet available to international initiatives such as AFToL (Assembling the Fungal Tree of Life), and CBoL (Consortium for the Barcode of Life). Contributors must ensure that cultures or DNA are deposited in major international collections to facilitate further research on these taxa.
Fungal Planet is expected to be one of several kingdom-based, consortium-style projects aimed at facilitating the discovery and description of our planet’s biodiversity. You and other mycologists are invited to contribute to this venture.


Fungal Planet, The book

A major initiative of this project will be to produce a visually arresting, scientifically compelling, large-format book targeted at a non-specialist audience. This book will highlight the morphological and phylogenetic diversity of fungi, presenting as much information as possible on the importance of fungi to planet Earth. We will attempt to portray the full range of ecological niches and roles associated with fungi, as well as the full spate of economic and health impacts.  Dramatic colour photos will show familiar landscapes and habitats in a context that will emphasize their ‘invisible’ fungal dimension.  To the greatest extent possible, the 1000 species presented in this book will be selected by the editors from the new and epitypified species presented in the other parts of the Fungal Planet. Therefore, authors of new or epitypified species are encouraged to submit several additional colour photographs that will not necessarily appear in their original papers, but that can be selected for the alternative published versions of the project. These photographs might include the collection sites of the fungi, spectacular habit photographs, or even pictures of mycologists collecting fungi. Imagination, attention to aesthetics, and careful photography are key aspects for these non-technical photographs that are intended to highlight the fungal world.

Our goal is to produce a book that features compelling design and stimulating concepts, so that it can be used to market the fungal kingdom as an important, intrinsically fascinating, and often surprisingly beautiful component of biodiversity.

 

 

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