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Laboratory for biological diversity

Biodiversity encompasses the variability of all the life forms on earth, from the level of genes, species and all the way up to ecosystems.

Biological resources represent a foundation for survival and sustainable development of civilization. At the same time, endangerment of a great number of organisms and ecosystems on a global scale is at the highest level since history of humankind. Therefore, research and protection of biodiversity are of exceptional value for the survival of humanity.

Laboratory for Biological Diversity (LBD) is focused on the research involving fungi as a large, ecologically relevant group of organisms that are severely under researched. Up to this day, around 140.000 species of fungi are scientifically accepted and described, but their actual number is thought to be between 2.2 and 3.8 million.

As a part of our work, we are conducting basic and applied research in the areas of taxonomy, phylogenetics, biogeography, ecology and conservation of fungi. Taxonomy is a biological scientific discipline that discovers, defines, and classifies biodiversity. Our approach to taxonomical research is integrative, via the use of methods from different complementary scientific disciplines like comparative morphology, molecular phylogenetics, DNA barcoding, ecology, and population genetics.

Recently, our Laboratory has implemented a modern, globally used method for biodiversity research called DNA metabarcoding used on environmental samples (soil, wood, air, water, etc), which is based on the technology of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).  The data concerning the biodiversity of fungi in Croatia gathered throughout many years were the foundation for the protection of fungi and their habitats in Croatia.

Members of our laboratory participated in the making of RuleBook(s) on Protection of Fungi (1998, 2002), the Red list of fungi in Croatia (2005), and the Red book of fungi in Croatia (2008). On the world scale, we participated in the process of evaluation of fungal species needed to make the IUCN global fungal red list.

Members of the LBD act as experts in identifying the fungal species in cases of poisonings, collaborating with the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health. Throughout the years members of the Laboratory published more than 50 internationally published original scientific papers, in them taxonomically defining and describing 20 species and six genera new for science. Over 1300 new fungal species for Croatia were recorded by the members of the lab.

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