Skip to main content
Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Ecosystem services provided by fungi in freshwaters: a wake-up call

Seena, Sahadevan; Baschien, Christiane; Barros, Juliana; Sridhar, Kandikere R.; Graca, Manuel A. S.; Mykra, Heikki; Bundschuh, Mirco


The set of functions and resources derived from ecosystems are broadly described as ecosystem services. Human society is gratified by a diverse range of services from the freshwater ecosystems to which fungi contribute significantly; yet they are unacknowledged for the services they provide. Aquatic fungi, especially aquatic hyphomycetes, are a distinct ecological group of organisms, accomplishing critical functions in the freshwater food web dynamics. Here, we conceptualize and categorize ecosystem services provided by aquatic hyphomycetes according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, specifically (i) regulating services, such as leaf litter decomposition and the self-cleaning capacity of freshwaters; (ii) supporting services, like nutrient cycling and bioindicators of environmental conditions; (iii) provisioning services, notably metabolites and clean water; and ultimately (iv) cultural services, particularly educational and inspirational values. Increased awareness and valuation of the ecosystem services delivered by aquatic hyphomycetes is essential to reinforce freshwater ecosystem management and policymaking. Overall, our perspective will serve as a wake-up call to map, quantify, and valorize the critical ecosystem services offered by these fungi across the globe. We also highlight the need to consider interactions between ecosystem services and a consistent life cycle assessment, i.e., from resource extraction to end-of-life disposal, promoting sustainable use of ecosystems.


Biodiversity; Litter decomposition; Conservation; Metabolites; Nutrient cycling; Aquatic hyphomycetes

Published in

Publisher: SPRINGER

Authors' information

Seena, Sahadevan
Universidade de Coimbra
Baschien, Christiane
Leibniz Institut fur Deutsche Sammlung von Mikroorganismen und Zellkulturen (DSMZ)
Barros, Juliana
Universidade de Coimbra
Sridhar, Kandikere R.
Mangalore University
Graca, Manuel A. S.
Universidade de Coimbra
Mykra, Heikki
Finnish Environment Institute
University of Koblenz and Landau
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Sciences and Assessment

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG6 Clean water and sanitation

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Aquacultural Science

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)