Fungi found in Marlborough
In addition to plants and animals, fungi are the other main kingdom of macroscopic organisms present in the environment. Unlike plants, fungi are not photosynthetic, so like animals, they rely on consuming existing organic material as a source of energy. Fungi can be classified both by the form of their fruiting bodies, and where they are found growing. Some are plant pathogens, growing on living plants, causing harm to their hosts, but many grow on dead organic matter, and some form mycorrhizal associations with plants, where both the fungi and the host plants benefit. Some of these mycorrhizal relationships involve specific host species for specific fungi.
There are estimated to be over 20,000 different fungi species in New Zealand, with only around a third formally identified. Marlborough supports a diverse variety of fungi with many colourful native fungi, as well as many unintentionally introduced species, some of which have become very invasive and displace native fungi. Fungi can be found in just about any habitat where there is available organic matter from alpine regions to the coast.
Fungi have a major impact on Marlborough's economy, with powdery mildew Uncinula necator, a particular problem in vineyards, which must be controlled with fungicides. Either sulfur or copper sprays available as organic options with sulfur having the advantage of no long term accumulation in the soil. In contrast, Botrytis cinerea is both a plant pathogen in damp conditions, but can also produce high quality sweet dessert wines under drier conditions. In the timber industry, Pinus radiata susceptibility to rot requires the treatment of timber with CCA (copper chrome arsenate) or other preservatives when wood will be in contact with soil or moisture. Marlborough has some boutique cheese makers, with fungi being integral to the rinds on several varieties. The spread of myrtle rust to Marlborough is of major concern as it has the potential to infect native species such as Mānuka and Kānuka which are important for honey production, in addition to fruit crops such as feijoas.