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North American checklist identifies the fungus among us

Some fungi are smelly and coated in mucus. Others have gills that glow in the dark. Some are delicious; others, poisonous. Some spur euphoria when ingested. Some produce antibiotics. All of these fungi – and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more – occur in North America. Of those that are known to science, 44,488 appear in a new checklist of North American fungi, published this month in the journal Mycologia.

“This checklist provides the basis for understanding our national mycoflora, which is timely since there is renewed interest in cataloging all North American fungi,” said Illinois Natural History Survey mycologist Andrew Miller, who led the effort to compile the data. “Hundreds of citizen scientists are interested in helping with this project.”

By conservative estimates, scientists have so far documented less than one-third of all fungi thought to exist in North America, said Miller, who also is an affiliate of the department of plant biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where the INHS is based. Collaborators on the checklist include Scott Bates, of Purdue University Northwest, and the Macrofungi and Microfungi Collections Consortia.

Read the full article at the Illinois News Bureau

Publication Date: 11/29/2018
Photo credits: Daniel Raudabaugh
Editor: Diana Yates