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Fungi & bacteria
Fungi and bacteria are essential to many of the most basic ecosystem processes. Understanding the roles of fungi in ecosystems, the impacts of environmental change and disturbance, and the potential impacts of newly introduced organisms all require accurate identification of species.
One of the greatest challenges to understanding the diversity, origins, and ecological significance of New Zealand's fungi are the huge numbers of undescribed species. About 7,300 species of fungi have been reported from New Zealand, but we estimate there are at least another 15,000 species awaiting discovery. Of the species so far reported, about one-third are exotic having been introduced to New Zealand by humans, mostly in the past 200 years.
Our fungal and bacterial systematics research focuses on describing and cataloguing the non-lichenised fungi and the plant-associated bacteria of New Zealand. We use phylogenies to understand their origins and their relationships with species from other parts of the world.
Maintenance of the ICMP culture collection and the New Zealand Fungarium (PDD) Te Kohinga Hekaheka o Aotearoa is an integral part of our research. Information is delivered to relevant biodiversity and biosecurity agencies through the Web (NZFungi database, Fungal Guide, etc.), the Fungi of New Zealand series, formal science publications, and community events such as the New Zealand Fungal Foray.