Discovering the underground networks of mycorrhizal fungi that lie in Argentina’s Atlantic forest

Valeria Faggioli
Valeria Faggioli
project abstract

The Selva Paranaense is home to the entire Atlantic forest of Argentina, one of the largest remaining virgin forests in the world. The Selva Paranaense is home to 52% of Argentina’s biodiversity, with more than 150 species of mammals, 564 species of birds, 260 species of freshwater fish, 116 species of reptiles, 68 species of amphibians, and thousands of species of plants and fungi. Due to the high levels of biological diversity and its many endemic species, it is classified as a global biodiversity hotspot. The Paranaense Forest faces serious threats of deforestation from agricultural expansion and the invasion of introduced and invasive species. In the last 120 years, 95% of the native forest has been lost, severely affecting the region’s flora and fauna. It should be noted that a large number of plant species have not yet been fully classified. The counterpart of the enormous plant diversity remains undiscovered: the arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. These essential actors of nature have not been studied so far in crucial national and provincial reserves. Thanks to SPUN, we will unveil the underground networks of mycorrhizal fungi in these priceless relics.

Photo by Manu Ros on Unsplash