Ecology of Fungi
As either free-living organisms or symbionts of plant or animal hosts, fungi are fundamental to the functioning of most ecosystems. They interact in various ways with their hosts/substrates, with their competitors (including other fungi) and with abiotic variables of their environment.
We are currently focusing on three main areas of fungal ecology
1) Community assembly of soil fungi. High throughput metabarcoding is being used to improve our understanding of factors affecting the composition and distribution of these complex fungal communities. We are particularly addressing the impact of global climate and land-use changes on the assemblages of mycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi.
2) Overlaps and shifts in fungal lifestyles and trophic strategies. We are contributing to a comparative analysis of genomes and symbiotic transcriptomes of a phylogenetically and ecologically diverse suite of fungi in Basidiomycota and Ascomycota, aimed at illuminating the functional basis of transitions between different fungal lifestyles.
3) Ecology of lichens:
i) Biodiversity - Biomonitoring - Conservation (floristic-vegetation analyses on lichen communities in relationships to environmental changes: e.g. global warming, air pollution);
ii) Ecophysiology of lichen-environment interactions (biodeterioration patterns on stone materials and minerals of ecotoxicological relevance; metabolic adaptations/responses to biotic and abiotic factors).