Why is conservation of aquatic fungi important?

Aquatic fungi play pivotal roles in freshwater and estuarine ecosystems, contributing to the health, function, and resilience of these ecosystems.

Aquatic fungi provide us with important ecosystem services. For instance, aquatic fungi are the dominant microbial decomposers of plant organic matter in streams and littoral areas of lakes (regulating services), they play pivotal roles in Carbon cycling, sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions (supporting services) and are an underexplored source of metabolites (280 reported so far) with potential for biotechnology and biomedical application (provisioning services).

These critical ecosystem functions and services, as well as Aquatic fungi contributions to ecosystem resilience in the face of ongoing global change, all depend on the taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity of aquatic fungi and their conservation.

The littoral of Lake Peetsch Stechlin, Germany, another typical habitat of aquatic fungi
Photo: H.-P. Grossart

Pure cultures of three aquatic fungi in a biodiversity experiment
Photo: Isabel Fernandes

Aquatic Fungal Biodiversity

Funaction brings together scientists and conservationists from Europe and the USA in a transnational consortium to enhance understanding of aquatic fungi diversity and devise conservation strategies.