The creation of the Isthmus of Panama approximately 3 Ma provided the opportunity for the southern and northern migrations of animals, fungi, and plants known as the Great American Biotic Interchange. Historical biogeography has largely focused on the fauna and flora of the region in relation to this event. There is no comprehensive study of how important geological events such as this shaped the diversity of organisms in soil communities where organisms like fungi and microbes engage in biotrophic and saprotrophic ecological interactions with the animal and plant communities.
Rapid land use and environmental change have the potential to eliminate species before they can be identified, yet understanding the diversity of ecosystems is essential in optimizing habitat restoration and management. Understanding the diversity and evolutionary history of plants and fungi provides the historical context that enriches our appreciation of the diversity that is found in native habitats.