Working With Fungi

The CSIRO FungiBank Project

Between 2003 and 2015, CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products hosted a website called FungiBank, which aimed to encourage and teach people to find and recognise many species of fungi and to use them efficiently and responsibly in management and restoration of landscapes.

Much of the material on this page is adapted from the FungiBank website, a copy of which can be viewed here.

© Copyright CSIRO Australia

Invasive Species

Favolaschia calocera (Orange Ping Pong Bats) © Copyright 2009 Michael Wallace

Be AWARE that, like other species of exotic organisms which have been introduced to Australia, there are invasive species of fungi. Therefore, we all need to use good hygiene when in the bush.  Some fungi can cause disease or outcompete native fungal species so it is important not to spread them inadvertently.

Before walking, cycling or participating in any other activities in the bush, please make sure that your clothes, coat, hat, bags, shoes and equipment are clean and dry. This should stop the spread of most pest species whether they be  fungi, ants, or agents of disease such as viruses.On returning from the bush, shoes and other soiled equipment should be scrubbed with  a brush to remove dirt, thoroughly cleaned, and left to dry. Clothes, hats and bags should be regularly cleaned and dried in sunlight. The sun’s UV rays should be enough to sterilise. 

Although we do not recommend visiting multiple sites on the same trip, if it can’t be avoided, then visit the sites with the fewest pests and weeds first. Clean soiled equipment between sites, using methylated spirits (70-80% is recommended), household bleach or biocide solutions such as Phytoclean. These solutions need at least half a minute to fully work on Phytophthora and many mosses, fungi and bacteria.

Do not move between sites if you have come into contact with airborne pests such as rusts and Favolaschia calocera, as their spore can travel on everything including hats!

Do familiarise yourself with invasive or disease-causing species, including Austropuccinia psidii (Myrtle Rust), Favolaschia calocera (Orange Ping Pong Bats pictured left), Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric), Armillaria luteobubalina (Australian Honey mushroom), and signs of Phytophthora species (which is not a true fungus, but a water mould = Oomycote).

The Process

© Copyright CSIRO Australia

This PDF shows an overview of the process.

What NOT to do

Do not collect soil from healthy natural woodlands with a shovel, in a front-end loader, or by any other means. This is likely to cause damage to the precious remnants, including disruption of soil communities their structure, and the root and fungal networks. It may also transfer pest and problem species which may hamper revegetation efforts.

Do not use excessive mulch. Mulch is a simplified substrate that creates a low-diversity environment dominated by generalist species. It also encourages the spread of invasive species, the spores of which are frequently found on mulching equipment. Deep and repeated mulching can suppress ectomycorrhizal fungi that partner with trees and shrubs.

Choosing Native Fungi

© Paul Vallier

As a basic rule, we suggest that you try any or many different local fungi that are NOT weedy, pest or problem fungi. If any indigenous recycler, mycorrhizal,  endophytic or beneficial fungi establish in revegetation, then you have succeeded. The activities of these local fungi will contribute to a gradual shift in the revegetation from a soil environment alien to native fungi to one which should encourage self-colonization of many other native fungi from nearby bushlands. ‘Alien’ or exotic and cosmopolitan fungi are more common in highly managed environments.

Revegetation programs may choose to source and re-introduce a broad range of local fungi, including common species, as well as some rare and endangered fungi. Know your local weedy or problematic species and take care NOT to spread them.

Some practitioners may choose to include certain native fungi which have “weed-like” attributes, enabling them to thrive in soil recently held under crops or grazing, as a stage in restoration. Knowing problem species is critically important as low diversity communities are more vulnerable. It would be best to choose a selection of fungi representing different ecological types – decomposer (recycling), mycorrhizal, endophytes etc.

Choose local fungi, as these are suited to local conditions and best match  indigenous vegetation. Variations in topographical, geological, soil and vegetation conditions within remnant patches of woodland greatly influence the types and diversity of fungi. For example, sites with thickets of sheoaks and wattles in heavier soils tend to have different suites of fungi to those found in sandier soil types with eucalypt-dominated vegetation nearby. 

More informed choices of fungi will be made when one is armed with an ability to recognize different types of fungi, their roles in the environment and how they  propagate.

More information available here.

Method for restoring fungi using mushrooms,

puffballs and truffle-like fungi 

COMING SOON: The method is suitable for nursery-raised seedlings to be planted in new or established revegetation areas.

These methods will be updated as new information comes to hand.

We want to to continue to learn, so please share your experiences and help everyone learn to restore fungi and their important functions in our landscapes.

We welcome your feedback, your ideas and comments and will endeavour to answer any questions you may have. Please share your stories and photos of your use of fungi in bush restoration and revegetation. The sharing of our experiences and ideas will improve the methods best suited to our many different bioregions.