About this Research Topic
According to best estimates, it is estimated that approximately 1.5 million or more fungal species exist on Earth. Nevertheless, we know of just 120,000, suggesting that 92% of fungal species are potentially unexplored. Owing to their abundance across all ecosystems, fungal taxa simply cannot be overlooked in any region. Most species are plant-associated fungi that can be pathogens, endophytes, saprobes or epiphytes across a wide range of hosts in terrestrial as well as aquatic habitats. Fungi contribute both positively and negatively to human and economic well-being. Given their ubiquitous nature, additional taxonomic and ecological knowledge are prerequisites to understanding their biology and their environmental significance.
These biotas are under considerable conversion pressures due to a variety of devastating activities, including the intensification of land use alongside growing human populations, economic development, over-harvesting, over-exploitation, environmental pollution, invasive species and climate change challenges. Recent studies have shown fungi are likely to be sensitive to environmental changes and global warming. This may be triggering the extinction of a large number of species that cannot adapt to changes in their environment, imbuing the research with a sense of urgency that future opportunities for study may not exist. If we are willing to confront these challenges and work to mitigate the extent of potential species loss, then a robust, updated fungal classification that enables clear taxonomic communication using extensive fungal sampling across different geographic regions will be needed.
Past studies have shown that certain fungi form close relationships with plants through mutualistic or antagonistic interactions. Based on these plant-fungi interactions, it is clear that fungi play a key role in shaping plant community compositions and distributions along the natural gradients. Numerous studies have attempted to document the biogeography of fungi at fine and regional scales. The findings of these studies indicate a high diversity of fungi in tropical regions, specifically in tropical forests, with a decline in diversity towards the northern latitudes. Additional studies in fungal biogeography, adopting either regional or fine scale approachs as well as studies focusing on specific fungal groups will further enrich our knowledge of the distribution of fungi.
In support of this endeavor, we welcome both Reviews and Original Research articles on fungi based on taxonomic diversity, molecular phylogeny, ecological roles, biogeographic distributions, host-specificity and co-evolutionary relationships.
Keywords: Taxonomic diversity, biogeographic distributions, molecular phylogeny, ecological roles, host-specificity
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