Originally coined by Gravesen (2000), the term Funga was applied to delimit and define the fungal taxa occurring in a certain region (Knudsen & Vesterholt 2008, Eyjólfsdóttir 2009, Knudsen 2012, Kunttu et al. 2012) or associated with food (Decker & Nielsen 2005, Filtenborg et al. 1996) or building materials (Gravesen 2000). This infrequent but appropriate use of the term provides a solid base on which to build on the concept of such works and, thus, allowing an unequivocal transmission of scientific knowledge. We think that the use of the word Funga, referring to the taxonomic composition of a fungal community, would be in harmony with the tradition promoted by Linnaeus’ Flora. Although first discussed by Hawksworth (2000) in a neutral way, commending “mycobiota” if a term was required at all, in the light of the movement to transition to an independent fungal terminology, as “myco-” was perhaps not as immediately recognized as equivalent to fungi by naturalists in general, he later considered Funga had much to commend it (Hawksworth 2010).
Similar concepts to Funga are delimited also by the composite artificial, Greek-rooted terms Mycoflora, Mycobiota or Mycota. Mycoflora is a Greek-Latin composition that was introduced with the recognition that fungi were not plants. Since fungi are now recognized as separate from the plant kingdom it is illogical to apply the term flora to treatments including fungi. Use of the term Mycoflora is a source of confusion for teaching purposes due to the non-correspondence of the roots of the word. Funga provides a purely myco-based term and follows the pattern of recent years to eliminate plant-based terminology and is in accord with the recommendation that fungarium be use rather than herbarium (Hawksworth 2010).
More recently, significant changes were made during the XVIII International Botanical Congress held in Melbourne, Australia, in 2011. One of the most important changes was to rename the Code: International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (ICN; Turland et al. 2018). This formally recognized organisms treated as fungi as distinct from and at the same level as plants.
The word Mycota has been widely used in technical literature to refer to what we are calling Funga. However, it is considered by many authors (e.g. Allaby 2012) to be a taxonomic synonym of Fungi, the name of the kingdom, and thus its use as an alternative is misleading and not completely accurate. The term Fungi is not a good alternative for Funga, just as Viridiplantae is not an alternative for Flora, nor Animalia for Fauna. Further, “-mycota” is a suffix used to indicate the rank of phylum of all organisms treated as fungi under the ICN (Turland et al. 2018), as in Ascomycota and Basidiomycota, so its use at the rank of kingdom could be misleading as to the intended rank; this was the principle reason this was not favoured by Hawksworth (2000). Indeed, as a suffix, -mycota remains the termination to be used for phyla applied to all organism treated as fungi for the purposes of nomenclature, and so can be applied to non-fungal eukaryotic organisms such as Oomycota (Arx 1967), Myxomycota (Alexopoulos et al. 1996), and has even in the past been used for some prokaryotes not regulated under the ICN, such as Actinomycota (Copeland 1956). The usage of this suffix therefore makes this option more ambiguous and potentially misleading than the terminology derived from the Latin fungus that has not been used to indicate a particular taxonomic rank.
Finally, the term Mycobiota has also been applied to the fungal components of a community and can be considered a synonym of Funga. Although entirely correct, we think that the educational and governmental sectors would better accept a latinized term in accordance with Fauna and Flora. The neo-Greek composition Mycobiota also would present orthographic variations (e.g. Micobiota in Spanish) which would sound strange to the public from different linguistic origins, as it happens with biology — biología. As a response to an inquiry made to the Real Academia Española, the word ‘hongos’ (Spanish for fungi) was suggested to complete the trilogy of the three mostly macroscopic Kingdoms of life (Cesar Marín, pers. comm.). Unlike Fauna and Flora, the use of this term would be restricted to Spanish-speaking readers, and translations would be needed for every other language. This would be out of line with the aim of universality in scientific language.
Finally, we suggest that the incorporation of fungi in educational, political and conservation contexts would be more meaningful and effective through the phrase “Fauna, Flora, and Funga” which would be intelligible for readers of a wide range of linguistic origins and sociocultural sectors. The abbreviation “FF&F” is also appropriate in the current era of short communications that represent large concepts. The concept of the 3Fs also will assists decision makers in the incorporation of fungi into every aspect of a countries’ reference to nature and enable the adoption of policy that incorporates these three larger macroscopic kingdoms.