With so many undiscovered mushrooms, citizen scientists find new species all the time

by | Sep 23, 2022 | Top Stories

Mushroom experts are vastly outnumbered by fungi they study. That means amateur mushroom hunters discover lots of new species, adding significantly to scientific knowledge.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
It’s estimated that fewer than 1% of the world’s mushroom species are known to science. So new species are being discovered all the time – and often by citizen scientists, not academics. From member station KUNC in Colorado, Rae Solomon reports.
(SOUNDBITE OF FOOTFALL ON TRAIL)
RAE SOLOMON, BYLINE: When it rains in Colorado’s mountains, the mushroom hunters follow close behind.
ALAN ROCKEFELLER: Oh, wait, wait…
SOLOMON: Take Alan Rockefeller.
ROCKEFELLER: …This is a good one.
SOLOMON: He’s a serious mushroom hunter and has become a well-known expert in the science known as mycology. And he’s just found something interesting sprouting up from the moist forest floor at 9,000 feet above sea level.
ROCKEFELLER: So this bright, yellow Russula – this looks like the one I was finding in Arizona that smells strongly like bananas when it dries – pretty sure it’s a new species.
SOLOMON: Rockefeller travels the world to identify, describe and analyze the DNA of w …

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