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Fungal functional ecology: bringing a trait-based approach to plant-associated fungi.

Journal article
Authors Amy E Zanne
Kessy Abarenkov
Michelle E Afkhami
Carlos A Aguilar-Trigueros
Scott Bates
Jennifer M Bhatnagar
Posy E Busby
Natalie Christian
William K Cornwell
Thomas W Crowther
Habacuc Flores-Moreno
Dimitrios Floudas
Romina Gazis
David Hibbett
Peter Kennedy
Daniel L Lindner
Daniel S Maynard
Amy M Milo
R. Henrik Nilsson
Jeff Powell
Mark Schildhauer
Jonathan Schilling
Kathleen K Treseder
Published in Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society
ISSN 1469-185X
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Language en
Keywords clades, ecology, endophytes, evolution, functional traits, fungi, guilds, mycorrhizae, pathogens, saprotrophs, taxonomy
Subject categories Microbiology, Botany, Zoology, Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Biological Systematics, Terrestrial ecology, Freshwater ecology, Marine ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Microbiology in the medical area, Computer and Information Science, Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries, Veterinary Science


Fungi play many essential roles in ecosystems. They facilitate plant access to nutrients and water, serve as decay agents that cycle carbon and nutrients through the soil, water and atmosphere, and are major regulators of macro-organismal populations. Although technological advances are improving the detection and identification of fungi, there still exist key gaps in our ecological knowledge of this kingdom, especially related to function. Trait-based approaches have been instrumental in strengthening our understanding of plant functional ecology and, as such, provide excellent models for deepening our understanding of fungal functional ecology in ways that complement insights gained from traditional and -omics-based techniques. In this review, we synthesize current knowledge of fungal functional ecology, taxonomy and systematics and introduce a novel database of fungal functional traits (FunFun ). FunFun is built to interface with other databases to explore and predict how fungal functional diversity varies by taxonomy, guild, and other evolutionary or ecological grouping variables. To highlight how a quantitative trait-based approach can provide new insights, we describe multiple targeted examples and end by suggesting next steps in the rapidly growing field of fungal functional ecology.

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