, Volume 7, Issue 9, pp 1147-1161

Role of fungi in marine ecosystems

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Abstract

Marine fungi are an ecological rather than a taxonomic group and comprise an estimated 1500 species, excluding those that form lichens. They occur in most marine habitats and generally have a pantropical or pantemperate distribution. Marine fungi are major decomposers of woody and herbaceous substrates in marine ecosystems. Their importance lies in their ability to aggressively degrade lignocellulose. They may be important in the degradation of dead animals and animal parts. Marine fungi are important pathogens of plants and animals and also form symbiotic relationships with other organisms. The effect of disturbances on marine fungi is poorly investigated. Keystone marine species may exist, especially in mutualistic symbioses. However, as many saprophytes appear to carry out the same function simultaneously, they may be functionally redundant. The need for a concerted effort to investigate the biodiversity and role of marine fungi globally and on as many substrata as possible is presented.