The fungal life aquatic, distribution, diversity, and function of marine molds
Fungi are a ubiquitous, diverse, and largely unstudied component of the marine microbiome. Comparatively little is know about fungal functional roles in marine systems although mounting evidence suggests that fungi are prominent players in nutrient cycling, play a central role in marine food webs, form symbiotic association with sessile marine organisms and are widespread and host specific pathogens. Drawing on research conducted in Hawaii and across the globe I’ll demonstrate that marine fungi are characterized by astounding ecological plasticity, an amphibious habit, and repeated transitions between marine and terrestrial environments. Unique biogeographic patterns, phylogenetic structure and metabolic potential speak to the fact that fungi are not just “another marine microbe”.