Biodiversity of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi and its Importance for Sustainable Land-use in Selected Areas of Balkan Peninsula (BALKANAM)
SCOPES Project (Scientific co-operation between Eastern Europe and Switzerland), funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).
Duration: 1 June 2014 – 31 May 2018
Dr Irena Maček, University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Dr Fritz Oehl, Agroscope, Zürich, Switzerland
Dr Žaklina Marjanović, University of Belgrade, Institute for Multidisciplinary Research, Belgrade, Serbia
This is a study on diversity, ecology and biogeography of arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi in selected biodiversity rich areas of Balkan Peninsula. The work is based on concomitant morphological and molecular phylogenetic analyses.
The Balkan Peninsula, alongside Iberia, harbours the richest flora in Europe, possessing not only the largest number of species but also hosting most endemics. The Balkan and the Iberian Peninsulas were the main Pleistocene refugia for the postglacial colonisation of Europe since southern and western parts of the Balkans offered buffered conditions, allowing even temperate tree species to survive the cold stages of the Pleistocene. Balkan Peninsula, however, represents an unstudied geographical area regarding research on any aspect of AM fungal ecology or biodiversity.
In this project we will simultaneously use next generation sequencing (NGS) methods of AM fungi from plant roots and morphologically based surveys of AM fungal spores from soil and trap (pot) cultures in order to study the changes in AM fungal community composition across a range of different ecosystems of confirmed high level of biodiversity (e.g. different types of pristine forests, dry karstic grasslands, serpentine soils and others). We will test if the observed patterns in AM fungal communities are stable through different seasons of the year, and how can stochastic effects between consecutive years, and after the cold winter season, affect the AM fungal community structure in those ecosystems.
Research into this valuable genetic pool is not only important from the biodiversity view point, but also represents resource for site directed reclamation of disturbed soils (ecosystems), sustainable forestry, nature conservation and agriculture that has never been used as such in Western Balkans so far.