Early research on marine fungi was mostly descriptive, with an emphasis on their diversity and taxonomy, especially of those collected at rocky shores on seaweeds and driftwood. Subsequently, further substrata (e.g. salt marsh grasses, marine animals, seagrasses, sea foam, seawater, sediment) and habitats (coral reefs, deep-sea, hydrothermal vents, mangroves, sandy beaches, salt marshes) were explored for marine fungi. In parallel, research areas have broadened from micro-morphology to ultrastructure, ecophysiology, molecular phylogenetics, biogeography, biodeterioration, biodegradation, bioprospecting, genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics and metabolomics. Although marine fungi only constitute a small fraction of the global mycota, new species of marine fungi continue to be described from new hosts/substrata of unexplored locations/habitats, and novel bioactive metabolites have been discovered in the last two decades, warranting a greater collaborative research effort. Marine fungi of Africa, the Americas and Australasia are under-explored, while marine Chytridiomycota and allied taxa, fungi associated with marine animals, the functional roles of fungi in the sea, and the impacts of climate change on marine fungi are some of the topics needing more attention. In this article, currently active marine mycologists from different countries have written on the history and current state of marine fungal research in individual countries highlighting their strength in the subject, and this represents a first step towards a collaborative inter- and transdisciplinary research strategy.
- fungal community