Chapter 1: 21st century fungal communities

In this book we aim to provide a broad understanding of the biology of fungi and the biological systems to which fungi contribute. Our scope ranges from the evolutionary origins of fungi and other eukaryotes more than a billion years ago (though the discussion covers all of time), through to the many contributions that fungi make to our present, every-day, lives. The book provides an all-round view of fungal biology, including ecology, evolution, diversity, cell biology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology, genomics and bioinformatics.

Our book emphasises interactions between fungi and other organisms to bring out the functions and behaviours of biological systems;

  • we concentrate on integration rather than reduction, which satisfies those who would see systems biology as a paradigm of scientific method;
  • we include computational modelling and bioinformatics for those who view systems biology in terms of operational research protocols;
  • and we bring together data about biological systems from diverse interdisciplinary sources.

In this Chapter we examine present day communities; starting with the essential terrestrial habitat and the nature and formation of soil. We emphasise the contributions made by fungi to soil structure and chemistry; and particularly what has come to be called geomycology. We also discuss the diversity of organisms in soil and illustrate interactions between bacteria, amoebae (including slime moulds), fungi, nematodes, microarthropods and larger animals. The origins of agriculture are briefly mentioned and our dependence on fungi illustrated.

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If you want to know more about fungi, you need the 21st Century Guidebook to Fungi.

Ordering details: Moore, D., Robson, G.D. & Trinci, A.P.J. (2011). 21st Century Guidebook to Fungi. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN: 9780521186957.

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Updated December 23, 2016