Our knowledge of marine and mangrove fungi is still at the cataloguing stage and an acceptable index is not available. The latest estimate of marine fungi is 1500 species which excludes those that form lichens (Hyde et al, 1998).

Many of these are new or inadequately described species. Fungal diversity reflects the availability of substrates for colonization and in turn its species richness.

Mangroves are rich in substrates ranging from leaf fall of mangrove trees and their associates, lignocellulose in the form of twigs, branches and whole trees which fall into the water, fruits, roots and pneumatophores. There are an estimated 174 species (in addition to 95 incompletely descibred or new taxa) lignicolous mangrove fungi (Jones and Alias, 1997). Mangrove fungi are an ecological group and not restricted to any taxonomic class. All major taxa of the fungi are to be found in tropical and subtropical mangroves including Ascomycotina, Basidiomycotina, Deuteromycotina, thraustochytrids and lower fungi (Hyde and Jones, 1988; Kohlmyer and Volkmann-Kohlmeyer, 1991).

About 50 mangrove trees have been sampled for marine fungi (Alias and Jones, unpublished) while many others, such as seagrasses and algae in mangroves await investigation. While mangroves in Asian countries have been well researched, other areas have attracted little attention. For example, mangroves in South Africa and South America have been little explored.


Number of fungi reported from mangrove substrates (after Jones & Alias, 1997)

Substrate Species Comment
Young and senescing leaves on mangrove trees 50 Mainly terrestrial species
Submerged leaves 20 Requires further study
Aerial woody parts of the trees 57 Very little known
Tree pathogens 15 Little studied
Endophytes 20 Some papers; area for study
Rhizosphere 25 Little information
Submerged and intertidal wood 174 (+95) Well studied
Fruits, pneumatophores 5 Few observations
Seagrasses ? No information
Macroalgae ? No information
Dead animals ? No information
Sediments 124 Many studies. Mainly terrestrial species
Total species 490 (+95)  


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