Executive Summary:

Mycological Society of America & Microbiological Section of the Botanical Society of America

Mycology is the study of fungi in all of its biological aspects. The discipline is experiencing burgeoning revelations of the ecological roles of fungi; on their seemingly endless interactions with all life forms; on their usefulness in industry and medicine; on how they may aid in detoxifying hazardous materials and degrade waste; in their use as model systems for understanding biological processes such as aging, growth, and development; and of their phylogenetic and systematic relationships.

Current goals that serve as a focus for investigation and training were identified. Inventory of fungal diversity is critical because many groups are poorly known. Possibly more than 1.5 million taxa await to be discovered. Biodiversity studies should correlate the occurrence and interactions of fungi with other organisms. Second, more understanding of the basic biology of fungi, particularly the mechanisms and physiology of interactions with other organisms, is needed. As a group, fungi are extremely important, and broader knowledge should be gained of the application of fungi and fungal products in improving environmental problems and human health. Particularly significant is a better understanding of their roles in degradation of waste, as biocontrol agents, and as a source of useful secondary products. Finally, for the continued growth of the discipline, outreach is critical, with better dissemination of information about the importance of fungi to schools, the public, governmental agencies, and other professions.

Critical needs include increased resources for mycological training and research. Many established mycologists are unable to gain training in new emerging techniques, such as molecular biology. There is concern that we are not training new mycologists in the diverse areas that represent mycology as a discipline. Perhaps most critical is that many other biologists ignore fungi as biological systems, as important components of the environment, and as vital examples of how life is carried out. Fungi are declining or disappearing at an alarming rate, and there is also concern that we do not have baseline data on the numbers and diversity of those that exist.

In general, it is important to foster opportunities for mycologists to collaborate with other scientists so that the significance of discoveries can be integrated into larger bodies of knowledge. Our society can take actions by encouraging both basic and applied research using diverse techniques. Integration of knowledge beyond the realm of mycology can be fostered by stronger interactions with other scientific societies where a common voice can be most effective.

Section Committee:

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