Fungi and Four Kingdoms

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Sun Oct 3 18:44:10 CDT 1999

     I don't think you owe anyone an apology.  I certainly
understood your meaning, and your pointing out the
importance of historical perspective was totally relevant
to the discussion.  Those who don't know their history do
tend to repeat mistakes unnecessarily.  And this certainly
tends to apply to many "radical revolutionaries", and
Elizabeth seems quite eager to proclaim herself as one.
      But Elizabeth's understanding of Whittaker's
classifications and Copeland's earlier classifications
seem rather flawed (as I will discuss).  And she seems to
forget that Protista (and the alternative Protoctista) were
proposed back in the 1860's, and therefore when Whittaker
choose to recognize it as a kingdom is totally irrelevant.
There is a definite historical reason that Fungi is often
called the "Fifth Kingdom".
     Copeland certainly did not ignore Fungi, and he
included them in Protista, as part of his Four Kingdom
classification, and A.J. Cain continued to use the Four
Kingdom classification in the Encyclopaedia Britannica
(1975).  Cain noted Whittaker's five kingdom system, but
wisely choose not to use it.  After all, Whittaker's
classification was strange in a number of ways, including
among other things his inclusion of Phaeophyta in Kingdom
     Whittaker's Kingdom Fungi was "polyphyletic", since he
included the heterokont Oomycota and Hyphochytridiomycota,
a mistake that Copeland before him certainly did not make.
Yet due to Whittaker's influence, there are still
mycologists who make this mistake, and some even still
define Kingdom Fungi by its saprophytic mode of nutrition.
Going from Copeland's four kingdoms to Whittaker's five
kingdoms was (in my opinion) taking several steps backward
and the repercussions are still being felt to this day.
    And Eumycota is by no means a new name, and Whittaker
himself even used Subkingdom Eumycota as the name for
higher fungi (as opposed to his polyphyletic Subkingdom
Dimastigomycota for oomycetes, hyphochytrids, and
chytrids, as well as his polyphyletic Subkingdom
Gymnomycota).  The Kingdom Fungi as circumscribed by Lynn
Margulis was equivalent to Whittaker's Eumycota, and in
Margulis' 1992 classification of life (in BioSystems), she
changed the name from Kingdom Fungi to Kingdom MYCHOTA
     I certainly would prefer the name Eumycota to Mychota.
Therefore, for historical and practical reasons I will
continue to refer to the group as Eumycota, and whether one
wants to recognize it as a phylum or kingdom is up to the
individual biologist.  I have nothing against 5 kingdoms,
but personally find the older 4 kingdoms of Copeland, Cain,
and others preferable for a number of reasons.
     Finally, if Elizabeth would bother to study my
proposed changes to modernize the Linnean system, perhaps
she wouldn't be so adamant about totally abandoning it (and
short-sightedly throwing the baby out with the bath water).
But I guess anyone who describes themselves as a "radical
revolutionary", probably looks favorably on instability and
rapid change rather a relatively boring "middle ground".  And her final
statement that her proposals might cause Kipling (or anyone else) some kind
of attack of apoplexy sounded rather silly, but I guess radicals often want
to tear down things and let others deal with the aftermath.  The responsible
revolutionary has no need to be radical.
                    ------------Ken Kinman

>From: Kipling Will <kww4 at CORNELL.EDU>
>Reply-To: Kipling Will <kww4 at CORNELL.EDU>
>Subject: Re: Fungi and Four Kingdoms
>Date: Sun, 3 Oct 1999 13:40:34 -0400
>I fail to see how my comments could be considered a
"personal attack" on
>Dr. Frieders, that was certainly not my intent. I though
the direction
>of my comments would be clear by my citing of de Queiroz &
>My "attack" is on the misrepresentation of supposed new,
>evolutionary ideas contrasted against clinging, ancient,
>stodgy, topological habits. I think this is just a wrong
>of history and/or propaganda and is not leading us
anywhere. Certainly
>not toward a better system. How unfortunate that a some
people may not
>see historical facts as important guides for future
>robert fogel wrote:
> >
> >
> > Finally, I think Kipling Wil owes Elizabeth an apology
for his personal
> > attack that made no reference to the facts, other than

>Kipling Will
>2144 Comstock Hall
>Dept. of Entomology
>Cornell University
>Ithaca, NY 14853
>The grand fact of the natural subordination of organic
beings in groups
>under groups, which, from its familiarity, does not always
>strike us, is in my judgement thus explained.  -Darwin

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