The invisible dimension of fungal diversity

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Science  11 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6278, pp. 1150-1151
DOI: 10.1126/science.aae0380

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Taxonomy plays a central role in understanding the diversity of life, translating the products of biological exploration and discovery—specimens and observations—into systems of names that capture the relationships between species. Taxonomic names facilitate communication among scientists and the public and provide conceptual handles for complex phylogenetic hypotheses. However, taxonomy can be challenging, particularly for fungi and other microorganisms, which are morphologically simple and extremely diverse (1). Molecular environmental surveys have revealed previously unknown branches of the fungal tree of life (25) and illuminated biogeographic patterns across all groups of fungi (6, 7). Yet the products of this research are not being translated into formal species names, in part because of the very rules designed to facilitate taxonomy.