Biodiversity in the Cape Floral Kingdom: Fungi occurring on Proteaceae
The South African Cape Floral Kingdom is the world's smallest and most diverse plant Kingdom, but is greatly under threat from urbanisation and agriculture. It covers only 90 000 km2 and has a Mediterranean climate. This area has a long history of botanical studies, but little research has been undertaken on the associated fungi. Therefore, a biodiversity study of the fungi has been initiated. The catalyst for this study has been the diversity of unusual fungi encountered whilst studying the fungal pathogens of Proteaceae. These pathogens include species, or entire genera of fungi that are specific to genera of Proteaceae. The diversity and uniqueness of the Proteaceae pathogens may indicate a similar diversity in saprobic fungi in this unusual habitat. Therefore, microfungi associated with genera of Proteaceae in various habitats are being systematically sampled over a two-year period. The initial results of this study are presented.