Plants and fungi reduce life on Earth, but scientists said they were now in the race for time to find and identify the species before it was lost.
These unknown species, and already recorded, were an uncapped “treasure chest” of food, drugs and biofuels that could tackle many of humanity’s greatest challenges, he said, potentially to coronaviruses and other pandemic microbes Treatment is also included.
More than 4,000 species of plants and fungi were discovered in 2019. They included six species Allium In Europe and China, the same group as onions and garlic, 10 relatives of spinach in California and two wild relatives of cassava, which can help future-proof the staple crop eaten by 800 million people against the climate crisis .
The new medical plants included a sea holly species in Texas, whose relatives can treat inflammation, an antimalarial species. Artemisa Three varieties of evening and primrose in Tibet.
“We wouldn’t be able to survive without plants and fungi – all life depends on them – and it’s really time to open the treasure chest,” said Prof. Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at the Royal Botanical Garden in Britain, Kew. . RBG Kew led the report, which included 210 scientists from 42 countries.
“Every time we lose a species, we lose an opportunity for mankind,” Antonelli said. “We are losing a race against time because we are probably losing species as fast as we can find and name them.”
The United Nations revealed last week that the world’s governments had failed to meet a single target for the loss of biodiversity in the past decade.
Researchers on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List assessed their proportion of species under threat of extinction. But only a small fraction of the 350,000 known plant species have been assessed, so scientists used statistical techniques to adjust the data to biases, such as the lack of fieldwork in some areas.
He also used artificial intelligence to assess little-known areas. “We now have AI approaches that are up to 90% correct,” said Imeier Nick Lugdha, a senior research leader at RBG Kew. “Suffice it to say, ‘There are a lot of species in the region that have not been evaluated, but are almost certainly threatened.”
In 2019, Nick Lugadha reported that 571 species had been wiped out since 1750, although the exact number was likely to be much higher.
A 2016 State of Plants report found that one in five were threatened, but the new analysis suggests the actual risk is much higher. The main reason for the loss of plants is the destruction of wild habitats to create farms. Wild plants, building, invasive species, pollution and, rapidly growing climate crisis are also significant causes of damage.
Billions of people rely on herbal medicines as their primary source of healthcare, but the report found that 723 species used as treatments are at risk of extinction. These include a trumpet of the red angel in South America used for circulatory disorders that have now become extinct in the wild and an Indian pitcher plant traditionally used for skin diseases.
“Only 7% [known] Plants have documented use as drugs and therefore the world’s plants and fungi remain largely untapped as potential sources for new drugs, ”said Melanie-Jane Howes, a research leader at RBG Kew. “Therefore it is absolutely critical that we better protect biodiversity, so we are better prepared for emerging challenges for our planet and our health.”
Professor Monique Simmons, who researches the use of plants and fungi at RBG Kew, said that nature is a prime location for the treatment of coronavir and other diseases where there is a possibility of an epidemic: “I’m pretty sure there’s something for the next Drugs and fungi will be produced in this area. ”
The report highlighted the very small number of plant species that humanity depends on for food. This supplies changes in climate and new diseases, especially by 2050 the world’s population is likely to grow to 10 billion. Half of the world’s people depend on rice, corn and wheat and only 15 plants provide 90% of all calories.
“The good news is that we have over 7,000 edible plant species that we can use in the future to truly secure our feeding system,” said Tiziana Ulian, a senior research leader at RBG Kew.
These species have a history of being used as all nutritious, fortified and local foods at low risk of extinction, but only 6% are grown on a significant scale.
Potential future foods include moram bean, a drought-tolerant South African legume that tastes like cashew when roasted, and a species of pandan fruit that grows from Hawaii to the Philippines.
Stefano Padulosi, a former senior scientist at the Alliance of Biodiversity International, said: “Thousands of neglected plant species are unprecedented climate change, widespread food and nutritional insecurity, and the lifeline of millions on Earth. [poverty].
“It should be our moral duty to exploit this basket of untapped resources and be resilient to change in order to transform food production systems.”
The report also found that the current level of beekeeping in cities such as London posed a threat to wild bees, as insufficient nectar and pollen was available to support bee numbers and bees were boycotting wild bees.