Almost 60 years have elapsed since Chesters (1949) postulated that the basidiomycetes were ''the missing link in soil mycology''. Our colleagues focusing on woodland ecosystems have made great advances in elucidating the role of these fungi in plant nutrition and decomposition processes. While the specialized catabolic functions performed by lignolytic basidiomycetes are relatively less important and partly mediated by ascomycete fungi, several lines of evidence suggest that grassland basidiomycetes may play a more important role in plant nutrition than previously suspected. With respect to fungal conservation, grasslands outside Europe merit more detailed study, given the unexpectedly high diversity revealed by molecular investigations. There is some urgency to this last point. As evidenced in Europe by the past 50 years of agricultural intensification, future uncertainty with respect to climate change and agricultural practices places remaining semi-natural grasslands at high risk of destruction.

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