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.

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.
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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