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Neomycetes

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Neomycetes are fungi which are not native to Switzerland and which were introduced from other parts of the world. The vast majority of neomycetes were probably introduced unintentionally due to the increase in global trade, and only a very small proportion may have migrated naturally due to e.g. global warming. As for other organisms, the discovery of America in 1492 (symbolic beginning of globalisation) represents a key year for neomycetes. Every non-native species that was introduced later that 1492 is defined as neomycete.

The majority of these newcomers are inconspicuous and mostly harmless pathogens, but a few can have catastrophic effects on our ecosystems. A current example of a devastating introduced pathogen represents the fungus Hymenoscyphus fraxineus native to Asia. This tiny fungus was presumably introduced in Poland in the 90ies and was detected in Switzerland in 2008 for the first time. Today, the fungus is found all over the country and poses a serious threat to ash trees and all theirs associated organisms. Other dangerous tree diseases that are caused by non-native invasive pathogens include elm wilt and chestnut blight. The potato blight, which caused the potatoe famine in the middle of the 19th century and cost the lives of over a million people in Europe, is also a neomycete. Finally, the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and B. salamandrivorans), which is considered the main causal agent of the worldwide observed chytridiomycosis disease in amphibians, is also one of them.

Beside these aggressive neomycetes also some harmless but very aesthetic fungi like the octopus stinkhorn (Clathrus archeri) or the latticed stinkhorn (Clathrus ruber) have to be mentioned.

Fortunately, there is only one species that is also relevant for mushroom pickers. It is the paralysis funnel (Clitocybe amoenolens), a dangerous poisonous fungus that has migrated to Switzerland from the Mediterranean region and that resembles certain edible native fungi (for more information on this species, please click here).

This webpage gives an overview about neomycetes in Switzerland. In the subcategories you will find a short version of the WSL report "Neomycetes in Switzerland" (in German), an explanation how to report neomycetes, several fact sheets to important neomycetes and a collection of links futher information about neomycetes. In our distribution atlas  SwissFungi the current distribution of the desired species can be viewed.

 
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With the octopus stinkhorn (Clathrus archeri) one could easily think of a creature from a foreign world. But this mushroom does not come from so far away. Mycologists suspect that he was brought to Europe from Australia in 1913 with wool deliveries. The octopus stinkhorn produces a carrion-like stench that can be smelled from afar. This attracts flies, which then are to provide for the further spread of the spores. Photo: Markus Wilhelm
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The latticed stinkhorn (Clathrus ruber), originating from the Mediterranean area, is in no way inferior to the octopus stinkhorn in terms of curiosity. The latticed stinkhorn is mainly found in gardens, while the octopus stinkhorn is also found in natural habitats. Photo: Max Danz
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The paralysis funnel (Clitocybe amoenolens) is a Mediterranean fungus that has naturally migrated to Switzerland with climate change. This dangerous poisonous fungus is very similar to certain domestic edible mushroom species that have been removed from the VAPKO edible mushroom list as a consequence. Photo: Francis Meigniez
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[Translate to Englisch:] Der Goldrutenrost (Coleosporium solidaginis) gehört zu den ebenfalls parasitischen Rostpilzen. Er wurde zusammen mit der Spätblühenden Goldrute (Solidago gigantea) aus Nordamerika nach Europa eingeschleppt. Besonders im Tessin scheint dieser Pilz schon recht verbreitet zu sein. Bemerkenswerterweise hat es der Goldrutenrost geschafft, auf die heimische Europäische Goldrute (Solidago virgaurea) überzuspringen und auch diese zu befallen. Bild: Ludwig Beenken
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The most frequent fungus-group among the neomycetes are the parasitically living Erysiphales, to which also Erysiphe vanbruntiana var. sambuci-racemosae counts. In contrast to most neomycetes, this species can also be found frequently in natural habitats and rises in the Alps to almost 2000 m.a.s.l. Sambucus racemosa, which is given a striking whitish coating by the fungus, is particularly affected. Photo: Ludwig Beenken
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The particularly attractive orange pore fungus Favolaschia calocera originates from the tropics and is considered today in many regions of the world as potentially invasive Neomycet. It probably reached Genoa in Italy with timber exports from New Zealand and then migrated naturally to Ticino, where it was first found in 2015. Photo: Katia Balmelli
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Pycnoporellus fulgens is mainly found on deadwood, which was already colonized by the red belt conk. Since the first confirmed discovery reports of this striking fungus date only from the 1970s, it might also be a neomycetes here. The path of introduction and origin of this woody fungus remain in the dark for the time being. Interestingly, the species native to Scandinavia is regarded as a bioindicator for natural forest and is on the red list of several Nordic countries. Photo: Kurt Bisang.
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Suillus placidus forms a root symbiosis (mycorrhiza) with several five-needle pine species and was probably introduced to Switzerland together with these. It is particularly found in parks, where the host trees (especially the Weymouth pine) have been planted. Since it can also mycorrhize with the native Swiss stone pine, it also occurs in natural forest communities, especially in the Grisons. Suillus placidus is one of the few introduced edible mushroom species. Photo: Max Danz
 

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