Fungi perform important functions in the forest. We study the interaction between fungi and trees, and examine which factors affect fungal growth. In the SwissFungi data centre, we gather information on the distribution of fungus species that exist in Switzerland and provide the basis for their protection.
Fungi decompose dead organic matter like wood, leaves and needle litter, and thereby keep the nutrient cycle going. In the root zone, as mycorrhizal fungi they help almost all higher plants to absorb water and nutrients, even our forest trees. While some fungi can cause disease in plant, others are prized delicacies for people.
We investigate the diversity of mycorrhizal fungi in forest ecosystems and their role in the forests’ stability and regeneration capacity. We try to understand how mycorrhizal fungi adapt to changing environmental conditions, such as increased drought, and how environmental changes affect their composition and function.
Our research also focuses on the fruit bodies of these fungi as an important non-timber forest resource. For the Burgundy truffle in particular, we are using a long-term monitoring approach to investigate how ecological and climatic factors influence the productivity of this precious truffle species. Using genetic methods, we study their life cycle and dispersal.
Which fungus grows where?
In the national data and information centre SwissFungi, we compile collection data and environmental data on the species of fungus that exist in Switzerland, and thereby document spatial and temporal changes in their populations. SwissFungi provides the basis for implementing conservation measures for fungus. We advise the federal government, cantonal authorities and the public on how fungi can be nurtured, produce species protection pamphlets and publish the Red List of Macrofungi together with the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).