Fungi are the key players in decomposition, plant nutrition and plant damage in terrestrial ecosystems. Recent molecular research indicates that fungi with yeast-like, flagellate and also filamentous cell forms are sometimes the dominant groups of heterotrophic eukaryotes in aquatic habitats, with important roles as pathogens of all organisms (Chytridiomycota, Rozellomycota including Microsporidea) and decomposers of organic material (Chytridiomycota, Ascomycota). In sediments, micro-aerophilic yeasts and specialized anaerobic groups of early diverging fungal lineages are common as degraders. Although fungal diversity has been documented in specific aquatic ecosystems in several places across the world, differences in sampling methods and molecular identification tools do not allow drawing any conclusions about the dominant fungal groups, overall fungal diversity and mechanisms driving fungal composition. The FunAqua project intends to overcome these limitations, with a central objectives documenting the drivers of global aquatic fungal diversity and determining the breadth of the niche of aquatic fungi locally and globally and in relation to soil and leaves. Fungal diversity will be determined based on the extracted DNA and third-generation sequencing of the ribosomal RNA gene small subunit and ITS spacers.

The core team of this project involves hydrobiologists, microbiologists and fungal ecologists from the Estonian University of Life Sciences (PI, Kristel Panksep; Alo Laas; Helen Tammert) and University of Tartu (co-PI, Leho Tedersoo; Veljo Kisand) with a global collaborative research network. We offer co-authorship to participants in the major research publication as outlined below (section Authorship).

We kindly ask you to participate in this global DNA-based inventory of aquatic fungi for documenting global fungal biodiversity in water and sediments. If you agree, please follow the sampling protocol (see link below) precisely in order to comply with standardized sampling and sample processing procedures to secure unbiased analyses across and between lakes, rivers and marine habitats: (820 kb)

If you are interested in to participate, please fill the following registration form: ring
All participants will receive the data form that we ask you to fill after sampling.

​Kristel Panksep
FunAqua project coordinator
Estonian University of Life Sciences, Centre for Limnology
University of Tartu, Institute of Ecology and earth Sciences, Chair of Mycology​
tel. +372 53497898