On 12 September, scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew published a comprehensive report on the state of the world’s fungi highlighting the often overlooked importance of this kingdom. To coincide with this, a two-day international symposium was organised. My knowledge of fungi was minimal (other than an appreciation for Portobello mushrooms) and so I was excited to attend and learn more!
The symposium kicked off with a welcome by Professor Kathy Willis, Director of Science at Kew who drew attention to some of the key findings in the report and themes that were to recur over the two days. These included the immense diversity of fungi and the relative lack of knowledge compared to animals and plants, the need for fungal conservation, the “Jekyll and Hyde” roles of fungi, and the difficulty in classifying different species.