Wood-decay fungi are essential for the functioning of forest ecosystems: they drive wood decomposition and soil formation in forests. They provide habitat for many other organisms and enable the regeneration of forests throughout the world. But many wood-decay fungi are threatened by forest management, and up to 42% of the species are in national Red Lists. Their occurrence in fragmented forest landscape is limited by ecological, evolution and dispersal traits. In order to address mechanisms responsible for fungal dispersal, this study will focus on determining which species, population and environmental characteristics correlate with dispersal inferred from population genotype patterns throughout a community of fungi. For several ecological and biological reasons, polypore fungi will be studied. To start, a sampling scheme will be design and twelve polypores species will be sampled on each of the six European locations in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Northwestern Russia and Ukraine. Four trait categories related to dispersal capacity and survival will be studied: (i) traits that are directly relevant to dispersal, (ii) traits related to spore production, (iii) life history traits and (iv) traits linked to environmental conditions that may impact dispersal and survival. In addition, a new high throughput sequencing technology, Restriction site Associated DNA, will be optimised to investigate genetic diversity in polypore communities. Finally, different hypotheses will be tested in order to determine which traits correlate with genetic diversity within populations and genetic distance among populations. This current project is the first to integrate community, population and genotype-level information which will help to gain a clear picture of fungal dispersal and how it influences biodiversity. Better understanding of the mechanisms will enhance the ability to manage and conserve the biodiversity and functions of fungal communities in forest world-wide.
Fields of science
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