Approximately 150 000 fungus species have been scientifically described worldwide so far. Based on the ratio between the number of plant species and the average number of fungi associated with a plant species, the global number of fungus species has long been estimated at 2.2 to 3.8 million.
However, the latest genetic-based estimates now assume an actual species richness of up to 13.2 million fungus species worldwide. Unfortunately, even this estimate is most likely imprecise. This is why scientists from Finland have launched the "Global Spore Sampling Project" (GSSP) with the aim of estimating the global number of mushrooms more precisely.
Here is how it works: fungi produce thousands of spores, which are usually disseminated by the wind. An automatic spore trap sucks in 16.5 litres of air per minute and filters all particles in the air into a small container.
New genetic methods can then be used to analyse the samples and thus determine the entire fungal community and the number of species of spores capture.
More than 50 such spore traps have been set up on all continents. The spore trap on the LWF test, training and demonstration site, the only site in Switzerland, is part of this worldwide network.