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.