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Fungal Biomass

  • Soil Health

  • Biological


More than 50% of the soil microbial biomass is composed of fungi (Vázquez et al., 2016).

Fungi play crucial roles in nutrient cycling, organic matter decomposition, breaking down complex substances into simpler compounds that are available to plants and maintaining soil structure by forming mycelial networks that help bind soil particles (Neiendam Nielsen & Winding, 2002). Monitoring fungal biomass provides insights into the health and functioning of the soil ecosystem and it is considered a sensitive measurement (Neiendam Nielsen & Winding, 2002; Bünemann et al., 2018).

Methodology summary

Methods to measure fungal biomass include:

  • Phospholipid Fatty Acid (PLFA) Analysis: This method identifies and quantifies specific fatty acids associated with fungal membranes (Neiendam Nielsen & Winding, 2002; Bünemann et al., 2018).
  • Ergosterol Analysis: Ergosterol is a sterol found in fungal cell membranes, and its concentration can be used as an indicator of fungal biomass (Neiendam Nielsen & Winding, 2002; Bünemann et al., 2018).
  • Quantitative PCR (qPCR): This molecular biology technique quantifies fungal DNA in soil samples (Bünemann et al., 2018).

Metric threshold or direction of change

Fungal biomass can vary spatially and temporally based on factors like soil type, land management practices, and environmental conditions (Bünemann et al., 2018).


  • Agricultural
  • Forest
  • Grassland
  • Peatland
  • Saltmarsh
  • Wetland


  • Community
  • Genetic
  • Population


  • High


  • Future

Technical expertise

  • High

Standardised methodology

  • Yes