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Distribution potential of different fungal trophic groups in Europe

18. 12. 2020 | 263 visits

In the period between 2016-2020, the Plant Science and Biodiversity Center SAS was the solver of the project APVV 15-0210: Distribution potential of different fungal trophic groups in Europe. Scientists bring current results.

They investigated the relationship between the means of diet of three different fungal groups, their geographical distribution and ecological preferences. These included lichens - symbiotic fungi growing on rocks, ectomycorrhizal fungi  bound to the roots of forest-tree species and parasitic powdery mildew on the leaves of forest-tree species. They found out that the occurrence of fungi is subject to local ecological conditions, but it is also formed by climatic and geographical influences. In the case of lichens and ectomycorrhizal fungi, they identified centres characterized by unique diversity.

Among the three model fungal groups, lichenized fungi, namely their fungal component (mycobiont), have the strongest relation of the area of distribution to bioclimatic conditions. Their genetic diversity is related to the geographical location and presence of refugia, both Mediterranean and extra-Mediterranean in Central Europe. They did not find a direct relation to bioclimatic and geographical conditions in the photosynthetic component, i.e. in green algae, which are in a symbiotic relationship with lichenized fungi.

In ectomycorrhizal fungi bound to the roots of forest-tree species, there is a climatic and geographical isolation of species, but within certain lines there is an evolution of species located in one territory. These coexistences are explained by the recent migration of species, but also by adaptation to local ecological conditions and the specialication of species to a certain ecosystem function consisting in interaction with a plant symbiotic partner. The distribution of species in a group of ectomycorrhizal fungi is probably related to and limited by the distribution of the ecosystem or habitat to which these species have adapted.

In powdery mildew, there is a strong binding of species to a species or group of plant host species. Their areas of distribution in Europe overlap greatly. They found a possible adaptation to microclimatic conditions, which may be favourable for several species on one tree or even leaf. Powdery mildew is not specific to a particular tree species, but to groups of species (genera or families). Their distribution areas are often larger compared to the host plants and extend to several continents.


Knowledge of the ecological demands of lichens offers the possibility to use species sensitive to small changes in temperature intervals as good indicators of climate stability. Knowledge of the distribution and ecological potential of powdery mildew can also serve to prevent the invasion of new pathogens between continents or geographically isolated areas.

The project defined morphological and phylogenetic standards for the description of new species of ectomycorrhizal fungi of the Russula genus. Given the low level of knowledge of the diversity of this genus with probably more than 2,000 species worldwide, these standards will undoubtedly be used in various countries around the world. In response to the work of researchers, 10 students and young scientists from various countries in Europe, Asia, North and South America completed or applied for a study stay at the research organisation (CBRB SAV).

Text: Slavomír Adamčík, Plant Science and Biodiversity Center SAS

Foto: Plant Science and Biodiversity Center SAS