Fungi Special Project

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About 1,700,000 different living species are currently described, representing a half if not a tenth of how many species actually exist in Nature. The actual estimate of all living species seems to vary within a range between 3 and 100 million species, according to the authors. Giving a focus on Fungi kingdom, its global estimate is of about 1,500,000 species, while at present only 72,000 taxonomic units are described - less than 5% of the total estimation.

Fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms are the main agents of the biogeochemical cycles (the cycles of matter, information and energy at the base of ecosystem functioning), undertaking an unnoticed duty of dead organic matter degradation to get both inorganic molecules - in the form of water, carbon dioxide and mineral salts - and organic molecules as a result of their complex metabolic activities.

Fungi and microorganisms represent a fundamental component for soil fertility. They perform an irreplaceable role, in whose absence the soil would simply be an inert mechanical support. Regardless of the several projects and measures adopted to study and conserve biodiversity, at present no fungal species is contained in the annexes to the Berne Convention and the Habitat Directive, which are the main tools for European wild species and their habitats protection.

Despite the crucial role performed by fungi within ecosystem processes, these organisms are still neglected in nature conservation plans and in the assessment of habitat protection priorities.

In this perspective ISPRA, continuing the activities on mycological biodiversity that since 2003 the former Agency for the Protection of the Environment and for Technical Services (APAT) started, has expanded its fields of interest, establishing in 2007 the "Fungi Special Project", to provide unconventional operational tools to assess environmental quality, and to promote the use of fungi as biological indicators. This special project was divided into 16 "Research Topics", given the extent and complexity of the research subject.

In 2010, a Fungi Special Project synoptic overview of its activities and results was illustrated within the national biodiversity conservation conference organized by ISPRA.

At the end of 2011, after an intensive four-year (2008-2011) seminar activity carried out on a monthly basis, the need emerged to have a multidisciplinary ecosystem approach to scientific research on fungi, given the considerable diversity of the various physiographic areas of Italy. Thus, to endorse the results obtained by the various "Operating Units", the Project took part into the "Technical Table for the establishment of the National Network for Soil Biodiversity and Land Degradation Monitoring" ("ReMo Programme").

To implement such activities, since 2012 the "Centres of Excellence for the study of soil biodiversity components" were established within ISPRA "Fungi Special Project".

Since 2012, thanks to the collaboration and intense activities of all the local operational structures (“Operating Units” and “Centres of Excellence”), the "Fungi Special Project" succeeded in constantly implementing the mapping and census data into the "ISPRA Mycological Diversity Information System", and in preparing each year several inedited editorial publications such as ISPRA-SNPA Manuals and Guidelines.



“Fungi Special Project”
Via Vitaliano Brancati, 48
00144 Rome (Italy)


Organizational Secretariat

+39.06.5007.4599 (Luca CAMPANA)

+39.06.5007.4942 (Francesca FLOCCIA)