Spanish My Cob Iota

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CURRENT STATE AND FUTURE PROSPECTS OF SPANISH MYCOBIOTA KNOWLEDGEHEYKOOP, M., LLARANDI, E. & MORENO, G. Department of Plant Biology (Botany), University of Alcal, 28871 Alcal de Henares (Madrid) Spain. E-mail: Running title: Spanish Mycobiota knowledge


ABSTRACT Taking Hawksworths estimate of the magnitude of fungal diversity as our conceptual framework we will review the current state of mycobiota knowledge in Spain. Therefore we will first go briefly through the history of Spanish mycology. We will then analyze our current knowledge stressing that one of the problems which difficult and limit the discovery and description of the missing fungi is the lack of professional taxonomist-mycologists; the latter is especially worrying considering the important decline in taxonomy teaching in Spanish universities. On the other hand we will emphasize the need of extensive studies of many of the Mediterranean habitats which despite being poorly-known, however, host very interesting and rare fungi. Examples of these habitats are gypsipherous steppe areas, forests and wood of Juniperus thurifera, sclerophyllous forests of Quercus, etc. Comments on these habitats as well as on some striking fungi discovered in them will be given. In addition we will analyze briefly the number of species new to science described by the mycologists of the University of Alcal during a period of ten years showing that very much work remains to be done. Finally we will finish the article with some general conclusions. INTRODUCTION The most widely accepted hypothesis on the fungal dimension of biodiversity is the estimate of Hawksworth [1], according to which there are 1.5 million species on Earth. One of the key elements in arriving at the 1.5 million figure was the ratio between fungi and vascular plants. The 6: 1 ratio which emerged from his analysis concerned the numbers of fungi (including lichens) ocurring on all substrata in a given area and not just the fungi present on plants. The fact that this author used the British Isles data makes sense since it is, in the case of the fungi, the most intensively studied region in the world. Several reasonable arguments show that this ratio, far from being excessive, is a very conservative estimate. Moreover, Hawksworth [2] contributed with new data which showed, ten years later, that his 1.5 million fungi estimate is too low. Nevertheless, this author considered that it would be prudent to retain that number as a working hypothesis. All our research on fungal biodiversity fits within the conceptual framework represented by Hawksworths [1,2] estimate. Therefore we have examined, in this article, the situation of our knowledge of the Spanish mycobiota. If we accept that our country has 5048 species of vascular plants [3] extrapolating the 6:1 ratio established by Hawksworth would give a total of 30288 fungi. However, the number of vascular plants in Spain has been reassessed and now stands at approximately 7000 species, which means that the number of total fungi might be significantly higher (42000 species). Moreover, Hawksworth [2] points out that the ratio of fungi to native vascular plants should be revised upwards to 8.4:1. Therefore we have adopted a conservative figure of 40000 fungi (including lichens) in Spain. Currently there is no overall fungal check-list available in Spain, but there are some partial catalogues for several taxonomic groups. If we compare these partial Spanish catalogues with those of other better studied countries we can draw some conclusions about the knowledge of the biota of these fungal groups in our country. In some of them, e.g. Myxomycetes, it seems that our knowledge is reasonable; however, in other such groups our knowledge is very poor and we are far from knowing the 40000 species which make up the Spanish mycobiota. To discover the unknown mycobiota Hawksworth [1] puts the accent on several important questions: i) critical or even regional monographic studies yield remarkably


high numbers of new species; ii) little-explored habitats are a major source of novel fungi world-wide; and iii) one of the most important factors which limits the number of new described fungi in the world is the number of taxonomist-mycologists available to achieve this work; i.e., an important question is the available manpower. This question will be discussed later. Another important question, which has to be taken into consideration, is the need of regional monographic studies such as the Flora Micolgica Ibrica (FMI) project. And finally, it is absolutely essential to carry out extensive studies of poorly-known habitats. Moreover, when adressing the question where are the missing fungi? Hyde [4] answered raising a series of new suggestive questions such as: are the missing fungi in poorly studied countries?, are the missing fungi on poorly studied hosts?, are the missing fungi in poorly studied habitats or niches? and can host or tissue-specificity account for the missing fungi?. Therefore, our analysis of the current state of the Spanish mycobiota (see section Where are we now?) will be divided into three subsections: i) in the first one we will concentrate on the need for a sufficient number of taxonomist-mycologists (need for sufficient manpower); ii) in the second one we will discuss the need of regional and national floras; and, finally, iii) we will comment several Mediterranean plant communities which are an example of still insufficiently known fungal habitats and a major source of novel fungi. But before we analyze the current state of our knowledge of the Spanish mycobiota, in order to understand and evaluate it correctly, it is necessary to analyze where we come from, i.e., we must go briefly through the history of the Spanish mycology. WHERE DO WE COME FROM? BRIEF HISTORY OF SPANISH MYCOLOGY. Whereas other European countries (e.g. The Netherlands, United Kingdom, etc.) have a long mycological tradition of several centuries, in Spain the interest for fungi is relatively recent. It is not until the end of the 19th century (Gonzlez Fragoso started in 1886 a series of papers concerning mycology, but without dealing with larger fungi), or the beginning of the 20th century when the study of fungi started in our country. On the other hand, the study of macromycetes except for some isolated records by Lzaro e Ibiza [5-7], and the works published by Prof. Aranzadi concerning the mushrooms of the Basque Country and Catalonia (between 1897 and 1914) did not start until nearly 1930. As a matter of fact it is the great popular liking for mushrooms, which existed traditionally in some Spanish regions such as Catalonia or Basque Country, which boosted the study of fungi in Spain. So, at the end of the twenties and beginning of the thirties some important authors emerged in Catalonia, such as Codina & Font-Quer [8] who published one of the first important mycological work in Spain. The latter was followed by a complete series of papers [9-13] which resulted in the current school leaded by Prof. X. Llimona, at the University of Barcelona. In other Spanish regions, such as for instance Central Spain, mycology had a more irregular and recent development. After the last contributions of Prof. Lzaro e Ibiza, it will not be until the thirties when an important mycological work arose in the form of a PhD thesis [14] entitled "Macromycetes of the Guadarrama and North of Spain", in which 112 species of Agaricales were reported. From then on until the end of the sixties a huge gap arose in the study of fungi, not only in Central Spain but generally in the whole country.


Nevertheless, there were some exceptions, and apart from what happened in Catalonia, some other Spanish regions yielded sporadically important contributions. Such was the case of Prof. Losa Espaa in Galicia, who from his Chair of Botany at the University of Santiago layed the foundations of mycology in this region [15]. Other regions with a great traditional liking for mushrooms are the Basque Country and Navarre. The first data on fungi in these regions are relatively old and were reported by Prof. T. Aranzadi [e.g. 16]. Besides, these regions always have had several mycological societies, which have done important contributions to Spanish mycology, especially to its popularization. In Central Spain, after a lapse of many years since the last contributions of Dr. Guinea, a resurgence of mycology ocurred in the seventies thanks to Prof. F.D. Calonge, whose first contribution was made in 1968 [17]. We can assert, undoubtedly, that thanks to this author Spanish mycology has reached its present high level, and his influence on the study of fungi in our country has been outstanding up to the present time, being the founder of the mycological group at the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid. Prof. Calonge has promoted several PhD theses, among which are worth of mentioning those of Profs. Moreno [18] and Ortega [19]. The latter boosted definitely the study of fungi in Andalusia publishing numerous papers until present. Prof. Moreno started his research creating a school of mycologists at the University of Alcal, which has studied a wide range of different fungal groups. This author has promoted numerous Ph.D. theses, among which we must mention that of Prof. Honrubia [20] (co-promoted with Prof. LLimona), who currently leads the mycological group of the University of Murcia. Finally, in the Canary Islands the start of mycology has been also very recent. The first serious study of the mycobiota of this region was due to Prof. Beltrn [21]. WHERE ARE WE NOW? CURRENT STATE OF OUR KNOWLEDGE. 1) Need for a sufficient number of mycologists in order to complete the inventory of the mycobiota. As pointed out by Hawksworth [1,2,22], one of the major problems, or limiting factor, impeding the discovery and description of all the missing fungi is the lack of profess