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Quantifying the impact of climate change on orchid mycorrhizal symbiosis in Mediterranean biodiversity hotspots

Project description

A closer look at orchid conservation in the Mediterranean

Orchids are among the plant groups most threatened by climate change. But they have developed symbiotic associations with soil fungi to create new individuals from seeds. The EU-funded FORECAST project will carry out a comprehensive study into the symbiotic relationships of the spider orchids, a group of high conservation concerns in Mediterranean habitats in Australia, with their fungal partners. The project will combine molecular, field and physiological experiments, offering a model system to predict orchids' response to climate change and the resilience of these symbioses in deteriorated and natural environments. FORECAST will develop new strategies for ongoing orchid conservation in Mediterranean environments.


Compounded by habitat fragmentation and the pervasive impact of climate change, biodiversity, particularly in global biodiversity hotspots, faces an uncertain future. Orchids, among the most threatened plant groups in the world, have symbiotic associations with soil fungi in order to establish new individuals from seeds. Yet this important interaction between orchids and fungi is poorly understood in the context of rapid environmental change. The FORECAST project will provide a detailed investigation into the symbiotic relationship between a high profile orchid group of high conservation concern in Mediterranean habitats in Australia, the spider orchids, (genus Caladenia) and their fungal associates, using a combination of molecular, field, and physiological experiments. This will be used as a model system to predict the response of orchids to ongoing climate change and the resilience of these fungal symbioses in degraded and natural environments. Subsequently, during the incoming phase, the project will transfer the skills and perspectives learned from the outgoing phase and focus on members of European orchid Anacamptis in the Mediterranean. The fellowship will be hosted by Prof. Michael F. Fay at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew with a two year outgoing period at the Curtin University of Western Australia under the supervision of Prof. Kingsley W. Dixon, one of the world’s leading experts in the field of orchid ecology and conservation. I will learn state-of-the-art techniques for the study of orchid mycorrhizal fungi in Australia and transfer them to one of world’s leading botanic gardens and conservation centres, RBG Kew. This work will be facilitated by ongoing collaborations with the University of Naples Federico II. The ultimate goal of the FORECAST project is to develop new multi-faceted strategies for ongoing orchid conservation in Mediterranean habitats under climate change, thereby uniting conservation approaches in both Australia and Europe.


Net EU contribution
€ 277 940,16
TW93AB Richmond
United Kingdom

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London Outer London — West and North West Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 277 940,16

Partners (1)