Marine Fungal Diversity: Present Status and Future Perspectives

  • V. Venkateswara Sarma


Fungal diversity in marine habitats varies with the techniques adopted. The processing of water and soil samples in artificial media on Petri dishes results in those similar to terrestrial environments, whereas direct examination of decaying plant substrata results in litter fungi mostly belonging to ascomycetes. With the advent of molecular techniques and retrieval of common soil fungi from deep-sea environments, it is now believed that the definition of marine fungi hitherto was narrow, and hence, the scope and definition of what is a marine fungus need to be expanded. Till 2009, there were 530 marine fungi that were reported, but after broadening the definition of marine fungi, this number has risen to 1112 species in 472 genera by 2015. The list included marine-derived fungi, which are now considered as marine fungi. The present number of marine fungi stands at 1206. Halosphaeriales belonging to Ascomycota is the most speciose order. Marine fungi are taxonomically diverse, though they may be physiologically or ecologically a defined group. Molecular sequence studies also reveal that marine environments comprise a large diversity of forms and lineages, including chytrids, filamentous hyphal forms, and multicellular forms. Ecologically, marine fungi play saprophytic and parasitic roles. A number of bioactive compounds have been reported from marine fungi which have therapeutic potential, including antimicrobial, antioxidant, anticancer, and various other disease states. Marine fungal diversity in the light of molecular inputs and their role in human welfare are discussed in this chapter.


Culture-dependent Culture-independent Ecology Enzymes Bioactive compounds Biodiversity Biotechnology Marine fungi Molecular diversity 



The photomicrographs included in this chapter were taken during my research pursuits with Late Prof. B.P.R. Vittal, C.A.S. in Botany, University of Madras, Chennai, India; Dr. S. Raghukumar, Microbiology Division, National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Dona Paula, Goa, India; and Dr.K.D. Hyde, Dept. of Ecology and Biodiversity, University of Hong Kong and presently at Mae Fau Luang University, Chiang Rai, Thailand, in a collaborative work during 1998–1999 carried out at NIO, Goa, India, and they are thanked for the encouragement.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. Venkateswara Sarma
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biotechnology, School of Life SciencesPondicherry UniversityPondicherryIndia

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